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Porsha Olayiwola

Poet Laureate

A Jamaica Plain resident, Porsha Olayiwola is the Artistic Director at MassLEAP, a literary nonprofit organization in Massachusetts serving youth artists. She also co-founded The House Slam, a poetry slam venue at the Haley House Bakery Café in Roxbury that offers a free poetry slam and open mic events twice a month. Porsha is the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion. In 2018, she was named by GK100 as one of Boston’s Most Influential People of Color.  She is the founder of the Roxbury Poetry Festival and the author of i shimmer sometimes, too. Olayiwola earned her MFA from Emerson College and was named Brandeis University's Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence starting in Fall 2022.

Rooted in Afro-futurism, magical realism, and sci-fi, Porsha’s work is a spell in response to the world around us that carves out the future, reimagines the past, and outlives the present on her own terms. Often times, those intersectionally-marginalized are not given a voice nor resources to dictate their circumstances. Porsha’s writing uses a dangerous imagination that allows folks of the queer, woman, and black diaspora to dream up their best selves, outlive their oppressors, and dictate their joy. As an educator and organizer Porsha seeks to cultivate spaces for emerging artists that allow them to deepen their understanding of craft and community. She has served youth artists in the City of Boston for the last several years and continues to grow spaces for artists and audience of the art. In applying to the Boston Poet Laureate position, Porsha sought to revolutionize how the City of Boston interacts with poetry. She is interested in meeting with and exploring organizations and artists in the local area as well as representing them in the national sphere. Her commitment lies in youth artists, emerging artists, and building community spaces that grow.

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