Katherine Hahn Falk Named 2017 Bucks County Poet Laureate
The Newtown resident rose to the top of 93 entries in the 41st annual contest; runners-up are Jenny Isaacs, Wendy Fulton Steginsky and Tricia Coscia
Katherine Hahn Falk of Newtown has been named the 2017 Bucks County Poet Laureate, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.
Falk, who has been writing all her life and discovered poetry while in college, rose to the top of 93 entries in the 41st annual contest, said Dr. Christopher Bursk, codirector of the poet laureate program administered by the college. The contest is sponsored by the Bucks County Commissioners.
Falk was honored with a poetry reading and reception November 12 at Bucks’ Newtown campus. She will also receive a proclamation from the County of Bucks and a $500 honorarium.
“I like to invite poetry from people who ordinarily might not be asked to create their own with a coach,” said Falk, such as when she worked with elementary school students in their classrooms. That experience eventually led her to the poetry community in Bucks County because she kept meeting parents of students, and her own neighbors, who had studied with Bursk and raved about the experience.
Falk began joining the workshops facilitated by Bursk in 2007. Before that, she studied poetry at the graduate level with U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and completed other graduate coursework in poetry at The College of New Jersey and Rutgers University.
Falk won the H. MacKnight-Black Poetry and Literature Prize and was a winner of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve’s first poetry contest. Her haiku was a runner-up out of 40,000 entries for Japan Airlines’ haiku contest. Her poems have been published in Freshet Anthologies, Schuylkill Valley Journal and U.S. 1 Worksheets.
Falk is a philanthropy consultant for nonprofit organizations. She has worked for arts, education, health/long-term care, international relations, social justice and social welfare organizations in this country and abroad and has been a leader in the Youth in Philanthropy Movement. She works actively for the successful re-entry of formerly incarcerated citizens.
Two judges blindly selected the winner. They were Barbara Daniels, author of Quinn and Marie and Rose Fever, as preliminary judge, and Margaret Holley, whose books include Walking Through the Horizon, The Smoke Tree and Morning Star, as final judge.
Holley had high praise for the winner’s work, calling it “colorful, witty, and intelligent.”
“These poems capture the tumble of experience richly infused with art and human feeling,” Holley wrote of the winning entries. “Moving with energy, control, and surprising turns, the poems double-expose the ordinary with the exotic, the spiritual with the mundane in a pleasing and thought-provoking way. From the Impressionists to the Buddha, from sleep to the soul, the poet’s concerns unfold with a combination of craft and adventurous spirit.”
Pictured at the Poet Laureate reading and reception at Tyler Hall are (left-right) BCPL Program Codirector Ethel Rackin, 2016 BCPL Laren McClung, 2017 BCPL Katherine Hahn Falk, and BCPL Program Codirector Christopher Bursk.
The judges also named three runners-up in the contest: Jenny Isaacs of Doylestown, Wendy Fulton Steginsky of Doylestown, and Tricia Coscia of Morrisville.They also shared their poetry at the November 12 reception, along with 2016 Bucks County Poet Laureate Laren McClung of Bensalem.
The Bucks County Poet Laureate program – the longest-running such program in Pennsylvania – is another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. For more information, contact program codirectors Dr. Christopher Bursk at 215-968-8156 or Dr. Ethel Rackin at 215-497-8719.