NEWTOWN >> Jane Edna Mohler of Peace Valley has been named the 2020 Bucks County Poet Laureate, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.
Mohler, who began writing poetry as a child, rose to the top of 75 entries in the 44th annual contest, said Dr. Ethel Rackin, director of the poet laureate program administered by the college. The contest is sponsored by the Bucks County Commissioners.
After entering the prestigious competition many times and named a past runner-up, Mohler said she was honored to have been selected as the 2020 laureate. The author, counselor and teacher credited the local poetry community for encouraging her creativity.
“Being a poet and a native of Bucks County, this competition always represented a brass ring for me to reach,” Mohler noted. “The poetry movement based at Bucks County Community College, nurtured for decades by Dr. Christopher Bursk, and now tended by Dr. Ethel Rackin, has made the large and dedicated community of Bucks County poets one that is known nationwide.”
Mohler, whose book of full-length poems Broken Umbrellas was published in 2019, says she draws inspiration from “the fragile nature of life and the force with which we endure.”
“I am driven to explore connections, coincidences, and collisions of people, events and objects. Writing allows me to celebrate what I love: the details, the quirks, the sheer work and glitter of life,” said Mohler, adding, “I also like to write about roadkill and roadside debris.”
In addition to her book, Mohler’s poems have been published or will soon appear in The Boston Globe, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, U.S.1 Worksheets, River Heron Review, and other journals. She is the 2016 winner of Main Street Voices poetry competition, a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a Robert Fraser finalist. Mohler taught English over two summers at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in China, and is a school counselor through the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. She shares her home with her artist husband and three distinguished cats. In addition to writing, Mohler is a traditional rug hooker, gardener, and kayaker.
Mohler was honored with a virtual poetry reading and reception on November 15 on the college’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/BucksCCC. She will later receive a proclamation from the County of Bucks and a $500 honorarium.
Two judges blindly selected the winner and runners-up. The preliminary judge, who narrowed the entries down for the final judge, was former Montgomery County Poet Laureate Liz Chang, author of the chapbook Animal Nocturne and What Ordinary Objects, a book of original poems and translations. The final judge was Grady Chambers, author of the poetry collection North American Stadiums, selected by Henri Cole as the winner of the 2018 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize.
The judges also named three runners-up in the contest: Jenny Isaacs, Maureen Connolly and Melinda Rizzo. They have been invited to read during the virtual reception, along with 2019 Bucks County Poet Laureate Mary Jo LoBello Jerome and preliminary judge Liz Chang.
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 director Dr. Ethel Rackin at email@example.com.
Knowledge is No Advantage
“Knowledge is no advantage when it is a matter of one’s own dreams.” – Carl Jung
The sidewalk may have been in Hopewell
beside the monument for my ancestor.
March snow topped the obelisks
and spalled slabs with sullen dollops of cold.
Then there was a garden, not ornamental cherry
or carved boxwood, but common crops,
heart-shaped green-bean leaves and large limas
with furred pods thicker than leather belts.
They too were covered in the snow but strong
and oblivious to the clawing cold.
Still growing on the vine, unchosen,
waiting long into the disinterested winter.
Why not picked? I held one in my palm.
It was familiar as the face of a friend.
Here, an entire acre of vehemently
enduring lives, whom I knew well.
- Jane Edna Mohler