Tyler Kline of Chalfont Named 2015 Bucks County Poet Laureate

Kline, the youngest laureate in the 39-year history of the contest, rose to the top of 70 entrants.

Tyler Kline, who balances his time between working on an organic vegetable farm in Doylestown and studying secondary English education at the University of Delaware, has been named the 2015 Bucks County Poet Laureate, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.

Kline, who at age 22 is the youngest laureate in the 39-year history of the contest, rose to the top of 70 entrants, said Dr. Christopher Bursk, co-director of the poet laureate program administered by the college. Kline was honored with a poetry reading and reception  Sunday November 15 at Bucks’ Newtown campus. 

The Chalfont resident is the author of the forthcoming chapbook As Men Do Around Knives (ELJ Publications, 2016). A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Apogee Journal, The Pinch, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Whiskey Island.

“Using surprising images and surrealistic juxtapositions that are simultaneously startling and grounding, these poems move between vividly evoked towns and rural landscape,” final judge Martha Collins said of Kline’s work. “The territory is inhabited by boys, parents, and others with whom the speaker makes emotionally complex connections in these memorably risk-taking poems.”

Collins, author of five collections of poems and three books of co-translations from Vietnamese, also named three runners-up in the contest. They are Katherine Falk of Newtown, Noel Sloboda of Yardley, and Geri Ann McLaughlin of Quakertown. They were also invited to read at the November 15 reception, along with 2014 Bucks County Poet Laureate Sandra Becker of Doylestown.

Deborah Burnham, an award-winning poet and the associate undergraduate chair of the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania, served as the contest’s preliminary judge. Both Collins and Burnham commented on the high quality of the entries to the laureate competition.

In addition to the inaugural reading and reception, Kline will be honored with a $500 honorarium and a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners.

 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 co-directors Dr. Christopher Bursk at 215-968-8156 or Dr. Ethel Rackin at 215-497-8719.


Advice From Stevie Nicks on Dating

That girl who watched her father burn cigarettes

on cattle & later saw him cry in the barn – take her

some place soft. Where salt blocks turn

to cheap boxed wine the color of a kid’s rusting wagon,

where there is no memory of a time without water

when wives whispered if we have taken so much from rivers

why haven’t we become lush in return? Play her

a song on your phone, one where a man’s voice

trembles to match a clarinet warping out of tune

making everything in the field a melting pond.

Now kiss her, but only during the moment where

one horse remembers & the other scratches for wings.

Kiss her so your chests are no longer dark woods

but box-springs breaking vinyl in a Chevrolet. Whisper the name

Honeybeast so she will call you Moon. Understand when you kiss,

you are two beaks filling a guitar with string & hay, one asking

the way to name a crow & the other folding the wings.

Understand that the crow’s a dove & might not last.

Walk her home. Know the lantern might burn you both

before the dove settles back to the husk you lay in her hair.

Tyler Kline

This poem originally appeared in pioneertown.

Jean Dolan
Assistant Director, Public Relations