National Youth Poet Laureate

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Amanda Gorman
The inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, performing at the Library of Congress.[1]

The National Youth Poet Laureate is a title held in the United States by a young person who demonstrates skill in the arts, particularly poetry and/or spoken word, is a strong leader, is committed to social justice, and is active in civic discourse and advocacy. It is a title awarded annually to one winner among five finalists, most of whom have been chosen as the Poet Laureate for their city or region.[2]

The national competition for Youth Poet Laureate is held in April at the Library of Congress, and is judged by a panel of esteemed poets. In its four years of existence, the award has been granted to four teens, Amanda Gorman of Los Angeles in 2017, Patricia Frazier of Chicago in 2018, Kara Jackson also of Chicago in 2019, and Meera Dasgupta of New York City in 2020.

To be chosen as the National Youth Poet Laureate, young people go through an in-depth application process that includes evaluation of their work, poetry and artistic skills, as well as their in-school and extracurricular activities. These activities collectively must show a desire and action to improve and engage their communities.[3] In addition to recognizing the talents of a young generation, the National Youth Poet Laureate program attempts to create spaces for young people to participate in political and cultural conversations of their time. During their year of holding the title of National Youth Poet Laureate, the poet attends events across the country doing readings and advocating for young people to participate in the expression of themselves and their generation through literature and poetry.

Founding[edit]

The National Youth Poet Laureate program was founded in 2016 by the Urban Word NYC organization, a youth program that provides opportunities for learning creative writing, poetry, spoken word, college prep, literature, and hip-hop to support development and engagement among young adults.[4] The national program is co-sponsored by other local and national organizations that support youth literacy, including Youth Speaks, The President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities, The Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Cave Canem, and the Library of Congress.[5] Urban Word NYC has been appointing youth poets laureate of New York City since 2009 after seeing young people get more involved and inspired in civic activity after the election of Barack Obama.[6] Their mission then spread to 35 other cities, states, and regions. In 2016, the organization partnered with the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities to make it a national title.[7]

The National Youth Poet Laureate is loosely connected to the United States Poet Laureate in that they are both sponsored by the Library of Congress. However, the US Poet Laureate is chosen by the Librarian of Congress rather than through a competition. They serve from September to May for a single term.[8] The US Poet Laureate is often an adult poet who writes for a more general audience and advocates for the reading and awareness of poetry. Additionally, The National Youth Poet Laureate award is not officially associated with the Young People's Poet Laureate, a title given by the Poetry Foundation to an adult poet who writes for children. The Young People's Poet Laureate serves for two years and recommends poetry for children to teachers, schools, librarians, and other educators each month.[9]

Ceremony[edit]

In awarding the National Youth Poet Laureate title, five finalists are selected from a pool of more than thirty-five applicants who serve as their respective city or regional Poet Laureate. In the spirit of National Poetry Month, the five finalists perform their poetry in a ceremonial reception at the Library of Congress in April. The finalists perform before a panel of esteemed judges who reflect and embody the power of verse.[according to whom?] In 2018 and 2019, the panel included Juan Felipe Herrera, a former U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017. Elizabeth Acevedo, the National Book Award Winner for 2018, was also among the panel of judges in 2019.[10]

The ceremony to announce the winner usually involves a few of the finalists reading poetry and appearances and speeches from notable poets. In 2017, finalists read with the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jacqueline Woodson.[11] In 2018, finalists were introduced by American Book Prize winner Kimiko Hahn and four-time National Poetry Slam champion Patricia Smith.[12] In 2019, the event was hosted by poet Mahogany L. Browne.[13]

The Library of Congress records and archives the celebration and recognition ceremony of the awarded individual.[14]

Finalists and winners[edit]

Year Finalist Hometown
2017 Amanda Gorman[15] Los Angeles, CA
Hajjar Baban Detroit, MI
Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay Nashville, TN
Nkosi Nkululeko New York, NY
Andrew White Houston, TX
2018 Patricia Frazier[16] Chicago, IL
Mila Cuda Los Angeles, CA
Rukmini Kalamangalam Houston, TX
William Lohier New York, NY
Cassidy Martin Nashville, TN
2019 Kara Jackson[17] Chicago, IL
Jackson Neal Houston, TX
Azura Tyabji Seattle, WA
Haviland Nona Gai Whiting Nashville, TN
Maren Wright-Kerr Baltimore, MD
2020[18] Meera Dasgupta[19] New York, NY
Na Farris Ann Arbor, MI
Taylor Gensolin Weston, FL
Samuel Getachew Oakland, CA

Amanda Gorman of Los Angeles was 19 when she was awarded the title of first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017. She writes about race, gender politics, growing up in Los Angeles and the changes the city has seen in her lifetime.[20] She attended Harvard University. [21] She became the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration, reciting her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. [22]

Patricia Frazier of Chicago was 19 when she became the second National Youth Poet Laureate in 2018.[23] She writes about gentrification of Chicago, her childhood, her grandmother, and other issues affecting young queer and diverse people.[24] She attends Columbia College Chicago.[25]

Kara Jackson of Chicago was 19 when she became the third National Youth Poet Laureate in 2019. She writes about being on the cusp of childhood and adulthood and what it means to be a prison abolitionist.[26] She attends Smith College.

Meera Dasgupta of New York City was 16 when she became the fourth and the youngest National Youth Poet Laureate in 2020. She is an advocate for student voice and gender equality, having worked throughout the city on various projects in order to empower young women and to increase civic engagement within other students her age. [27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Congress, Library of (July 2017), National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman reads her poem, "In This Place (An American Lyric)," at the inaugural reading of Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith., retrieved 2019-11-09
  2. ^ Foundation, Poetry (2019-11-09). "National Youth Poet Laureate Finalists Read with Jacqueline Woodson at the Poetry Foundation". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  3. ^ "The National Youth Poet Laureate". Poetry Society of America. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  4. ^ Poets, Academy of American. "National Youth Poets | Academy of American Poets". poets.org. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  5. ^ "National Youth Poet Laureate". National Youth Poet Laureate. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  6. ^ "Kara Jackson Is The Multi-hyphenate College Student Changing How We Look At Poetry". Bustle. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  7. ^ "Amanda Gorman Named National Youth Poet Laureate". Poets & Writers. 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  8. ^ "About the Position of Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry (The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress)". www.loc.gov. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  9. ^ Staff, S. L. J. "Naomi Shihab Nye Named Young People's Poet Laureate". School Library Journal. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  10. ^ "National Youth Poet Laureate". National Youth Poet Laureate. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  11. ^ "National Youth Poet Laureate Celebration - March 15, 2018". blogMLIS. 2018-03-13. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  12. ^ "Amanda Gorman Named National Youth Poet Laureate". Poets & Writers. 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  13. ^ "National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  14. ^ "National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2019-11-10.
  15. ^ Foundation, Poetry (2019-11-09). "National Youth Poet Laureate Finalists Read with Jacqueline Woodson at the Poetry Foundation". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  16. ^ Poets, Academy of American. "National Youth Poets | Academy of American Poets". poets.org. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  17. ^ "National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  18. ^ "2020 Anthology and Videos". National Youth Poet Laureate. Urban Word. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  19. ^ "2020 NATIONAL YOUTH POET LAURETE MEERA DASGUPTA". National Youth Poet Laureate. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Amanda Gorman Named National Youth Poet Laureate". Poets & Writers. 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  21. ^ Hawgood, Alex (2017-11-03). "How Amanda Gorman Became the Nation's First Youth Poet Laureate". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  22. ^ "Amanda Gorman: Inauguration poet calls for 'unity and togetherness'". BBC News. 2021-01-20. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  23. ^ Foundation, Poetry (2019-11-23). "Harriet: Patricia Frazier". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  24. ^ Steinkopf-Frank, Hannah. "Get to know National Youth Poet Laureate Patricia Frazier". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  25. ^ May 31, News Office Staff /; 2018. "Student Patricia Frazier Named National Youth Poet Laureate". www.colum.edu. Retrieved 2019-11-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Kara Jackson Is The Multi-hyphenate College Student Changing How We Look At Poetry". Bustle. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
  27. ^ "2020 National Youth Poet Laureate Meera Dasgupta". National Youth Poet Laureate. Urban Word. Retrieved 20 January 2021.