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2023 Annual PGCMLS Poetry Contest

Lady Di

Ladi Di, Featured Judge

Sylvia Dianne Beverly (Ladi Di) is an Internationally acclaimed poet, presenting poetry In London, England, at the Lewisham Theater.  A collection of her work is housed at George Washington University's Gelman Library.  She is a member of A Splendid Wake, Gelman Library, George Washington University.

Ladi Di as she is affectionately called is a founding member of the poetry ensemble "Collective Voices”. She is a proud member of Poetson the Green Line, Poetry X Hunger, Poetry Poster Project and Voices of Woodlawn. Ladi Di celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Host Grace Cavalieri, reading on her show "The Poet and the Poem" at the Library of Congress Experience. Also, she is a founding member of the Anointed PENS (Poets Empowered to Nurture Souls)  Poetry Ministry, out of Ebenezer AME Church, an alum of Poets in Progress with Poet Laureate of District of Columbia, the late Dolores Kendrick. She is the author of two books (Forever In Your Eyes and Cooking Up South), both on Amazon. Recently her poetry appears in several International anthologies, Moonstone Press Anthology and as part of Mike Maggio”s 30/30 Series for National Poetry month 2021.

Ladi Di is also called "Love Poet". The late Dr. Maya Angelou is her hero. She is the proud Matriarch of her family. Celebrating Black History 2018, she and her family received posthumously for her Dad, a “Congressional Gold Medal” from the United States Marines.  She is a Poet of Excellence in Prince George's County 2020 and Literary Leader in Prince George’s County 2022. Poetry is her passion.

Sainey Ceesay

Sainey Ceesay, Featured Judge

Sainey Ceesay is the 2021 Prince George’s County Youth Poet Laureate. She is the Words Beats and Life 2020 Grand Slam Champion, A Joe's Movement Emporium Creative works alumni, a Kennedy Center Youth Council Member, and a facilitating teaching artist. She has performed nationally and across the DMV area for audiences like Brave New Voices, the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Blues Alley Jazz Club, Planet Word, The Kennedy Center, and Busboys and poets. Sainey has also held the distinction of being the inaugural poet for the Mayor of Glenarden Cashenna Cross and the ceremonial poet for the Hyattsville Library Grand re-opening. She has appeared on BBC International news, NBC 4, Channel 9, PGCTV, Sojourn with words, the Poet Life Podcast, and WBL radio's “something to say”. Her poetry touches on mental health,  blackness, identity as a Gambian-American, gender issues, and social injustice. She seeks to find and build community through her poetry and to encourage others to write and share their stories. She is currently an arts concentration student at Prince George's Community College

Diane Parks

Diane Wilbon-Parks, Featured Judge

Diane Wilbon-Parks is an accomplished poet, visual artist, author, literary advocate, a Prince George’s County Poet of Excellence and Literary Leader. She has written two poetry collections and a Children’s Book. Diane is the founder of The Write Blend, a culturally diverse poetry circle, and a member of the Voices of Woodlawn. Diane was brought in as an Expert Consultant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation through a National Endowment for the Arts Grant. She celebrated the permanent installation of one of her poems and artwork as a permanent sign at the North Patuxent Research Refuge. Diane’s poetry has been featured nationally and internationally in newsletters, online magazines, in The Sailors Review - Zimbabwean Online Magazine,  Maryland Bards Poetry Review Anthology; International Anthology, “Singing in the Dark,”;  International Magazines, Wexford Women, and Beyond Words Literary Magazine. Her interviews are included in the 43rd and 44th Anniversary of Maryland State Poet Laureate Grace Cavalieri’s the Poet and the Poem at the Library of Congress. Diane is a USAF Veteran and Sr. IT Program Manager. She resides in Maryland.

2023 Annual Poetry Contest Winners

The 4th Annual Poetry Contest winners are below. 

First Place: A Panther's Powers

Kenneth McLeod ©, 2023

"Who is your favorite superhero?", I was asked
My creativity rose to the task
New inspiration sprang to the alert
Tossing its tie and opening its shirt
It flew through time on the wings of memory
Back to the past of my teenage reverie
An age of riots and threats atomic
Was when I found the power of comics
In stapled pages for twenty five cents
Stood heroes in times of consequence
Tunics fit like a second skin
Symbols on chests broadcast hearts within
Capes that rippled before stars and sky,
And primary colors that awed the eye
But one primary, missing hue Was black, and it's dawn was overdue
Stanley Lieber, known as Stan Lee,
A Jew who landed at Normandy,
Took the values for which he fought
And brought to life what Marvel wrought
His heroes were brave but misunderstood
Taunts were thrown as they fought for good
Greatness thrust on them by chance,
These heroes made by happenstance
Marvel’s unique story devices
Inspired us during a decade of crisis
Nuclear nations were gambling the world

Neo-Nazi flags unfurled
Klansmen hunted pacifists
Guardsmen slaughtered activists
Fearless ones who led the nation
Fell from cruel assassination
Vietnam failed, it was learned
As voices were snuffed and cities were burned
Black pioneers made freedom bloom
With one small step in all-white rooms
Turbulent times had set the stage
For the Black Panther on the page
In ‘66 Lee did bring
The comic world an African king
No emblem spread upon his chest
No initial adorned his breast
No glowing colors done for show,
Just ebon fabrics from head to toe
But It wasn’t just the African throne
That made this hero stand alone
Something else in this new sensation
Spoke to me through this comic creation
He couldn’t fly high from a roof
Neither was he bulletproof
He didn’t fire blasts from his hands
He wore no rings or magic bands
No dazzling speed, no x-ray sight
No ESP or superhuman might
He had no supernatural power
To marshal in the darkest hour
He rescued others, unburdened by fears
Invulnerable to racist smears
No rabble’s hate or political noise
Could wither his courage or confident poise
The invincible spirit of this African heir
Defended people everywhere

Stan Lee’s message, from all those years back
Was that it was heroic to be black.

Second Place: A Beautiful Song

Katrieia Jones ©, 2023

My Husband is a beautiful Song.
It sings to me
In the night
When I think I’m alone.
It reminds me that I’m not.

It hears my tears
It makes me laugh
It causes me to forget
What I thought I was afraid of.

My Husband is a beautiful Day.
Full of Life
And provision
Whether I win or lose
Pass or fail

I wake up to His smile
He loves my fragrance
I can’t stop Him

From taking care of me.

I love my Husband
With all my heart
When my fingers want to claw my chest
He holds my hands, gently,
And smiles as He looks me deep in my eyes
And says,

My wife is a beautiful Song
I love to see her
With all I AM
She’s mine.

And it is so.

First Place: Who is My Hero?

Sydney Delissant ©, 2023

My hero is so special

In my opinion she deserves a medal
She is always there to guide
There to be a friend
Consistently by my side
Doing for me what no one else can
I’ve always known she’s my biggest fan
My hero doesn't look for outward sources of strength
For me she’d go to any length
She draws her strength from within
Always comfortable in her own skin
She’s a vehicle for empowerment
Stepping with confidence, she empowers others
Looking out for them as sisters and brothers
My hero looks in the mirror and admires her luscious curls Reminds herself that she’s a beautiful girl
She knows the world is a cruel place
That’s why she tells me to keep my head in the race
Always seeking to protect me from danger
Shielding me from the tainted intentions of strangers
I love my hero so much
It always shocks me how she comes in clutch
I can’t continue to hide her identity
Who is my hero?
She is ME
Encouraging me to be the change I wish to see
She’s the strength I draw from within, my character, my backbone
She’s taught me that you can’t always rely on others to be there for you
She has inspired me to be there for myself
To be my own source of love and wealth
She’s a strong, black, young lady
We see so much ahead of ourselves
She pushed me to graduate when I was only fifteen
She’s helping me through college at just sixteen
Me and myself make a really good team
She’s my hero, and I’m hers - huge shout out to my ME-RO

Second Place: Heroism is More

Jaden Messing ©, 2023

So often we become stuck
On the heroes who do amazing works
Regardless of the pain or hurt
So everyone can be in bed safely tucked

What about the man stuck with depression
Or the woman struggling with anxiety
Or thoughts of dying
They end up shoved into a tiny forgotten section

Yet they are just a hero as the greats
Fighting through the sadness
To make sure their families are blessed
No matter their mental state

Heroism is more than committing great acts of service
Sometimes the most heroic is getting out of bed
Even when you feel dead
Still striving to achieve a purpose

Heroism is more than giving your life for a cause
Sometimes the most heroic is loving your family
Even when it seems scary
And fear grips you with its claws

Heroism is more
We cannot forget that
Heroes are not just those who wear a helmet or mask
We are all heroes and this we cannot ignore

First Place: She Wasn't Wearing a Cape

Chi Chi Anya ©, 2023

She wasn’t wearing a cape
When she befriended me,
diminishing my solitude
That seemed too reluctant
To do so.

She wasn’t wearing a cape
When her ethereal emerald eyes
comforted me when I felt
Like china dinnerware
During an earthquake;
Rattling, shattering
At the ground’s touch

I was starving to the bone
And she helped me recover
Unsurprisingly, she wasn’t
Wearing a cape

On the 25th day of May, her last day
At my school, she wasn’t wearing a cape
When I, full of tears, called her
My hero

Second Place: Not All Heroes Need Superpowers

Awelle Ikejiuno ©, 2023

Batman, Wonderwoman, Superman,
People with superpowers that risk their lives for the safety of others.
But when I say heroes,
I don’t think of Marvel or DC,
I think of:
Doctors, Police, Firefighters,
People without superpowers who risk their lives for others.
Parents, Guardians, Teachers,
They watch after us,
Would risk their lives to save us,
And care for us dearly.

Not All Heroes Need Superpowers.

First Place: My Hero 

Megan Poon ©, 2023

My hero doesn’t have a super sparkly cape,
But she is as strong as an ape.
My hero doesn’t have a super suit,
But she's so great I would salute.
My hero has the best super powers,
She’s brave and strong and as pretty as a flower.
My hero is the nicest hero you’ll ever meet,
She is sugary sweet.
My hero works all day,
And even so, she still has time to play.
My hero is more entertaining than a TV show,
She’s so great I think she glows.
While busy, she still has time to play,
She saves me from boredom every day.
My hero is the one that gave birth to me,
She’s so awesome, you will see.
Everyday she gives me something more valuable than gold,
Love is something that will never grow old.
If I have her by my side, everything else will be alright
Everything will be alright, if she is in my sight.
I don’t need anything more than my hero which is her,
When we are together I realize what I am for.

Second Place: My Ultimate Hero

Mary Wilson ©, 2023

Jesus—He loved us
He saved us
He cared for us
He died for us
They broke the bread
To the cross He was led
A crown of thorns on His head
On the cross
Such a loss
Even though He was the boss
But it didn’t end there
To show His care
He rose from death’s lair
He beat being dead
On Satan He did tread
“I am alive!” He said.
Jesus—He loved us
He saved us
He died for us
He rose for us!

First Place: My Mom, My Hero

Camila Loyola-Esparza ©, 2023

My mom is like a blanket
She is soft and cozy
When she is not here
I start to cry
When she is close
She makes me laugh
When I am sick
She takes care of me
She loves me
And I love her
She is the best hero
In the whole wide world.

Second Place: Be the Hero You Want to Be

Soumya Ishaani Alimineti ©, 2023

Be the hero you want to be
There’s a hero in us all
Look deep within to see
It doesn’t matter that we’re small
All we have to do is believe

Be the hero you want to be
You can be a leader like Dr. King and Gandhi They spent their lives to make bright
The lives of millions of people with no rights The enemy was defeated with peace
not a fight.

Be the hero you want to be
You can be a poetess like Maya Angelou and Sarojini Devi
Powerful words of freedom to the world they brought
Taught women they’re stronger than they thought
“Like dust, still I rise” is the mantra with which they fought

Be the hero you want to be
Never give up on your dreams There is no big or small deed
Always help someone that’s in need
A hero is already within everyone
Including you and me.

Past Poetry Event Videos

Prince George's County Poet Laureate

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, Ed.D.

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, Ed.D.

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, Ed.D. is a cultural curator, community organizer, theatre producer, director, nationally recognized speaker, and multi-genre writer. She is the 2023 Poet Laureate of Prince George's County, MD.

Dr. Ali-Coleman is author of the children's book Mariah's Maracas and co-editor of the book Homeschooling Black Children in the US: Theory, Practice and Popular Culture. She is editor of the Liberated Muse anthology book series and has creative work and scholary writings featured in several books.  Her plays have been staged, workshopped and read on dozens of stages.  She is a member of the virtual writing group, Zora's Den, as well as a professional member of The Dramatists Guild, The  Recording Academy (home of the GRAMMY awards) and the Association of African American Museums.

For over 20 years she has served in different capacities as an higher education professional, from teaching as an adjunct professor, serving as a faculty advisor of student publications, and a coordinator of a summer bridge program to working as the assistant director of residence life at an HBCU.
As an educator, she has created and led educational programs for over 20 years at numerous institutions, including Montgomery Community Media, Covenant House Washington, The Alliance of Concerned Men, One Common Unity, and Morgan State University. She is founder of the multidisciplinary arts group Liberated Muse and co-founder of the national education research group Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars, LLC (BFHES). She has maintained the youth development blog So Our Youth Aspire since 2006.

Dr. Ali-Coleman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (African American Studies and Mass Media) and a minor in Writing from the University of Maryland Baltimore, County; a Master of Arts degree in Mass Communication from Towson University and a doctorate in education from Morgan State University. 

She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

Precious Foreman

Precious Foreman

15 YEAR OLD Precious Foreman of Landover, Maryland is the 2023 Prince George's County Youth Poet Laureate and an Honor Roll student with a passion for storytelling. She says she writes to express her complex emotions & messages to the world. Precious was awarded first place in the Hip Hop Workshops, "What Matters to You" 2022 poetry campaign and 2nd place in the Frederick Douglass Oratorical Speech Contest. Precious was a Junior Arts Scholarship recipient in September 2021, and was the Middle School Global Journey Scholars award winner for that year. Precious will spend her year as YPL embarking on a reading tour of various PGCMLS Libraries, participating in writing workshops, and implementing a campaign along with her fellow Youth Poet Ambassadors to bring the spotlight on teen mental health awareness.

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