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Call for Boston's first Youth Poet Laureate

Boston's Youth Poet Laureate will create a unique artistic legacy through public readings and civic events.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, in partnership with the Boston Public Library, Urban Word, MassLEAP, and 826 Boston, today announced a call for Boston's first Youth Poet Laureate. The new Boston Youth Poet Laureate initiative will be aligned with the work of the Boston Poet Laureate program, which was established in 2008 to highlight literary arts and promote appreciation for poetry. Youth interested in applying are encouraged to submit their application by November 25, 2019. 

"Having a Youth Poet Laureate in the City of Boston is a great way for us to better connect with the young people that make up such a large portion of the city and play an impactful role in shaping the future of Boston," said Mayor Walsh. "I'm eager to see how this helps to integrate literary arts and an appreciation for poetry into the lives of younger generations."

Similar to the City's Poet Laureate, the Youth Poet Laureate will be an advocate for poetry, language and the arts. The poet will create a unique artistic legacy through public readings and civic events. The mission of the youth laureateship is to raise the status of poetry in the everyday consciousness of Bostonians. 

The Youth Poet Laureate is a ceremonial appointment. They will present appropriate work at civic events and attend official functions as a literary ambassador. In this position, the Laureate will enhance current Boston Public Schools and Boston Public Library poetry programs through engagement and outreach, act as a resource during National Poetry Month each April, and work alongside the City of Boston Poet Laureate.

"This is a wonderful opportunity and an excellent example of the all-hands-on-deck approach needed to ensure we are meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of students," said Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. "Arts education and student expression builds a student's sense of self and confidence. Learning to write is a key skill to succeeding in college, career and life. Poetry builds critical thinking skills and connectedness to our creative mind."

To be eligible for Youth Poet Laureate, applicants must be 13-18 years old, and have lived in the City of Boston for at least one year. They must also display a strong commitment to their community, and be enthusiastic about fulfilling the duties that come with the youth laureateship. Applicants must have produced work that demonstrates poetic flexibility, reflects the vibrancy of the City of Boston, and is significant to Boston residents.

A distinguished selection committee will review all applications and select a group of finalists, who will then be invited to participate in interviews. The selection committee includes Jill McDonough, Ashley-Rose, Legacy Thornton and Nakia Hill. 

Individuals can either apply for Youth Poet Laureate themselves, or be nominated by another individual. The Youth Poet Laureate will receive a $500 honorarium each year, and may serve a maximum of two consecutive two-year terms. They will also receive mentoring from the City of Boston Poet Laureate, and will publish a collection of poems while in their role.

The City's current Poet Laureate, Porsha Olayiwola, was appointed earlier this year, and is releasing her first book of poetry, I SHIMMER SOMETIMES, TOO, with Button Poetry in November. 

"I am beyond excited and humbled to be working with other organizers to pilot the youth poet laureateship for the City of Boston," said Porsha Olayiwola, Poet Laureate for the City of Boston. "We are a community seeded in talented artists and writers. There is no grander time to invest in the arts for young people, as they began to shape and scope a life for themselves and our future."

Mayor Walsh  recently announced the Boston Public Library is eliminating overdue fines for youth under the age of 18 who have a Boston Public Library card. Under this new policy change, which becomes effective November 1, 2019, BPL will remove all pending overdue fines and replacement costs for youth library card holders. Youth card holders will not face monetary penalties for returning books late, although they will still be required to return any overdue books in order to check out additional materials. While youth card holders will no longer incur fines for late returns, they will still be responsible for replacement costs if a book is lost or not returned.

The deadline to apply is November 25, 2019, at 5 p.m. The application can be found online, along with more information about the Poet Laureate program.


The Office of Arts and Culture enhances the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the City through the arts. The role of the arts in all aspects of life in Boston is reinforced through equitable access to arts and culture in every community, its public institutions, and public places. Key areas of work include support to the cultural sector through grants and programs, as well as the production and permitting of art in public places.

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