Continuing its commitment of support for the arts and culture of the region, Orlando International Airport (MCO) on July 1 opened its first-ever exhibition featuring poetry by 13 local writers including Billy Collins, the former two-term Poet Laureate of the United States and current Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, as well as two teen poets from the Parramore community.

WORDS IN FLIGHT, A Celebration of Orlando Area Poets offers poems inspired by the theme of flight, travel and transformation paired with photographs from the airport archives. The exhibition continues through September 30, and is on view at the airport’s 3rd Level, near the Checkpoint for Gates 70-129 (by the Starbucks) in the Main Terminal.

The exhibition represents a partnership between the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and the City of Orlando, with Orlando’s first Poet Laureate Susan Lilley assisting with the curation of the poems as well as contributing her own words. In addition to Collins and Lilley, the selected poets offer diverse voices:

  • Vidhu Aggarwal, author and professor at Rollins College
  • Valada Parker Flewellyn, author, storyteller, social justice advocate
  • Terry Godbey, Orlando-based author and winner of Rita Dove Poetry Award
  • Russell Kesler, Orlando native, author and professor at UCF
  • Tamara J. Madison, writer, editor and instructor at Valencia College
  • Cecilia Milanes, author and professor at UCF’s Puerto Rico Research Hub
  • Don Stap, professor emeritus, University of Central Florida
  • Terry Ann Thaxton, director UCF’s MFA Creative Writing Program
  • Shawn Welcome, founder of the weekly “Diverse Word” at Dandelion Community Café
  • Za’Niyah Anestal, 7th grader at OCPS ACE School
  • Madeline Stevens, 8th grader at OCPS ACE School

“Orlando International Airport has a long history of supporting and showcasing the arts in our community,” says Phil Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “Our latest venture is a collaboration with the City of Orlando and local poets to capture the beauty and essence of the Central Florida experience through the power of words.”

“During this time, it is important for our community to come together, while remaining socially distant. Poetry and art unite us and I hope that this exhibition sparks a new appreciation of poetry for our residents and our visitors,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “This is our first collaboration of this kind with GOAA. We are pleased to partner to showcase our diverse and extremely talented poets.”