Rich Howells

NEPA pride and creative groups host LGBTQ poetry contest with ‘Live Out Proud’ theme

NEPA pride and creative groups host LGBTQ poetry contest with ‘Live Out Proud’ theme
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The NEPA Rainbow Alliance, NEPA Pride Project, and NEPA Creative have teamed up for a new poetry contest that is open to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community in Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Wyoming Counties.

“The purpose of this contest is to bring creative expression to life within the Greater Wyoming Valley LGBTQ+ community. We’re looking for unpublished poems that move us, make us laugh/cry, teach us something new, or a combination. By promoting the creative medium of poetry, our vision is for you to express yourself and how it pertains to ‘Live Out Proud,'” the organizations stated.

The poems, which have to relate to the topic ‘Live Out Proud’ and cannot exceed 40 lines in length, must be submitted to by Sunday, Sept. 5 at 11:59 p.m.

The first place winner will receive a $300 Visa gift card; a feature in NEPA Scene, DiscoverNEPA, and The Weekender; a social media feature across the NEPA Rainbow Alliance, NEPA Pride Project, and NEPA Creative pages; and a basket filled with local products.

“Community member and poet Alyssa Duffy reached out to the Rainbow Alliance with an interest to amplify LGBTQ+ voices in our local community,” Rainbow Alliance board member and co-founder of NEPA Creative Holly Pilcavage told NEPA Scene.

“Board member and community relations chair of the Rainbow Alliance Patricia Dickert-Nieves called a meeting between myself, Rainbow Alliance Board Chair Anthony Melf, and Rainbow Alliance Vice Chair and NEPA Pride Project co-founder Justin Correll. We met to explore the possibility of bringing something like this to life. From the first meeting, it was clear we were all in. As a representative of NEPA Creative in that meeting, I said we were absolutely in!”

As someone who highlights local creatives regularly, she is keeping her expectations open for the pieces they are looking to receive, and the judges – Dawn Leas (she/her), Samantha Bucher (she/her), Kris Atienza (they/them), and Jennifer Yonkoski (she/her) – will do the same.

“I wouldn’t want to put a box or expectation around the types of poems because all are welcome as long as they fall within the guidelines shared on the landing page. Personally, I would love to see real, authentic, heart-driven writing. I hope new writers, first-time writers, and experienced writers all find themselves inspired by the theme ‘Live Out Proud’ and submit,” Pilcavage said.

“Public pride projects like this poetry contest are important because they benefit the individuals involved as well as those who will be inspired and impacted by the project. It’s an opportunity created to represent the movement towards an inclusive and supportive future and hopefully clearly shows that there are people working every single day to make the necessary changes needed to reach that future. Also, I truly think it brings people together, to celebrate one another, which causes an incredible ripple effect in itself.”

She sees that affect regularly with NEPA Creative, a regional collective she co-founded with Samuel O’Connell, the creative director of Coal Creative. Soon after Pilcavage moved back to the area and started working at this Wilkes-Barre-based marketing agency, the team launched the NEPA Creative video series to highlight one creative every week of the year via their social media platforms, “shining the light on the creative humans that make our communities an even better place to live, work, and play,” she explained.

In early 2019, she and O’Connell started planning a potential meetup of local creatives to discuss their ideas and needs. To their surprise, over 70 people answered the call and showed up at the THINK Center in Wilkes-Barre on March 26, 2019, which ventually became a monthly event that promotes “collaboration, brainstorming, and sheer moral support” with workshops, breakout sessions, and socializing.

Now the president and CEO of Coal Creative, Pilcavage said the meetups have started up again after the pandemic put in-person events on hold for the past year, including a June meetup hosted in partnership with the NEPA Rainbow Alliance to celebrate LGBTQ+ creatives in honor of Pride Month.

“As of 2021, we’re back at it again, meeting outdoors at Kirby Park every third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. We’re still featuring two to three creatives and their endeavors at each meetup.”