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Rein Martin-Baker: BRCC Poet Laureate Winner

Blue Ridge Community College is pleased to announce the winner of its inaugural Virginia Community College System Poetry Competition.

Rein Martin-Baker, is the Poet Laureate winner at BRCC for his poem, “Lavendar.” Besides his knack for writing poetry, Rein has also performed twice on the stage of the Blackfriars Theater in Staunton, Virginia, and enjoys several types of visual arts. He says that his work deals often with both the world around him and the world inside his mind. Rein plans to transfer from BRCC to James Madison University to pursue a degree in Theater Arts.

Participating students submitted original poetry [and visual artworks] during February and March interpreting the theme “I Belong.” The program aimed to foster a sense of community and belonging at BRCC and across the Virginia Community College System. Twenty of the 23 colleges in the VCCS participated in this first year of the Poetry and Arts Competition, which was supported by the VCCS Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Culture.

Rein now moves on to compete for statewide honors. College poetry winners from across Virginia will participate at a live performance of their original theme-related poems at the Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville on April 6, and a chance to be named “Poet Laureate” of Virginia’s Community Colleges. A panel of distinguished judges will determine the winner of the competition based on the individual’s original poetry, a private interview, and the live performance.  

You can learn more about the April 6 event and register for free tickets here.

Select works of visual art from participating colleges also will be on display at PVCC on April 6 and at the Virginia Community College System’s New Horizons systemwide conference in Roanoke the following week.

“The work of our students is wonderful,” said VCCS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Carla Kimbrough. “I’m so grateful to college coordinators who organized the competitions at their colleges, and the judges at the college level who helped us find true gems of creativity in this inaugural event. We are so excited to showcase the message of belonging from our talented poets and visual artists from so many of our colleges at our April 6 event.”

With the support of Virginia’s Humanities, the winners from all 20 participating colleges will have their poetry and visual arts featured in a book to be published this summer. The Virginia Humanities grant also supported professional development for the college poet laureates and top visual artists.

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