City Names K Alumna its Poet Laureate

Fairfax Poet Laureate Danielle Badra
Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill (left) and Chairman Jeffrey McKay congratulate
Danielle Badra ’08 on being named Fairfax’s poet laureate. AE Landes Photography.

The community of Fairfax, Virginia, is celebrating the work of a Kalamazoo College alumna, who will serve as the community’s poet laureate through 2024. 

Danielle Badra ’08 has earned the esteemed honor of representing Fairfax County and will extend her love of poetry through literary-engagement activities in Fairfax County Parks.  

“Language, for me, is a salve,” Badra said. “The more you use it, the more power you have to heal your wounds and the wounds of others. My experiences in life and in the literary world directly inspire my vision for the next two years as Fairfax poet laureate. Through poetry workshops, readings and activities in the parks, I want to illuminate how language and our natural environment can be a source of comfort and creativity.” 

In addition to receiving her bachelor’s degree in creative writing from K, Badra earned a master’s degree in poetry from George Mason University, where she was the poetry editor of So to Speak, a feminist literary and arts journal, and an intern for Split This Rock, a national network of socially engaged poets witnessing injustice and provoking social change. 

Badra’s manuscript, Like We Still Speak, was selected by Fady Joudah and Hayan Charara as the winner of the 2021 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize and published through the University of Arkansas Press. It was named a semifinalist for the Khayrallah Prize, which identifies, awards and publicly honors those whose original work focuses on any aspect of life in Lebanon, or among Lebanese immigrants, whether in the past or present. It was also listed in Entropy magazine’s Best of 2020-2021: Poetry Books and Poetry Collections. 

Since 2020, the Fairfax poet laureate has served as a literary arts ambassador, promoting poetry as an art form in the county, region and state of Virginia. During her tenure, Badra will encourage residents to write and read poetry and all types of literature through a community-service project designed for county residents. 

Dialogue with the Dead (Finishing Line Press, 2015) is Badra’s first chapbook, a collection of contrapuntal poems in dialogue with her deceased sister. Her poems have appeared in Mizna, Cincinnati Review, the Maynard, Outlook Springs, 45th Parallel, the California Journal of Poetics, Duende, the Greensboro Review, Bad Pony, Rabbit Catastrophe Press, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and elsewhere.  

In addition to teaching undergraduate composition, literature and poetry at George Mason University, Badra has led writing workshops at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Split This Rock Poetry Festival, OutWrite DC, and in high schools. She has been a featured reader for Split This Rock’s Sunday Kind of Love series, a judge for Brave New Voices in DC, and a participant in Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, a festival commemorating the 2007 bombing of a historic book market in Baghdad, Iraq.  

“The Fairfax Poet Laureate is a remarkable example of how support to a single artist can impact the whole County,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said. “Danielle’s vision to bring poetry to the parks is inspired, and we’re as excited to learn from her as we are thrilled to share her work with the Greater Fairfax community.” 

Discover more of Badra’s work at her website,