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Youth Poet Laureate

Honoring young writers and leaders committed to civic and community engagement.

Congratulations to our new Youth Poet Laureate, Wei-Wei Lee of Nathan Hale High School, who will represent youth writing, leadership, and civic and community engagement throughout the Puget Sound region this year!

Azura Tyabji, 2018/19 Youth Poet Laureate, has released her debut poetry collection, STEPWELL (PNW Editions). Nikkita Oliver says of her book: “In a time when we are in desperate need of mystics, prophets and healers Azura’s work brings together all three.”

Watch the PBS NewsHour presentation on Washington State Poet Laureate, Claudia Castro Luna’s “Poetic Grid” Project, including a video performance from 2017/18 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Lily Baumgart.

Watch 2016/17 Youth Poet Laureate Maven Gardner read two original poems to open a committee meeting at City Hall.

The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify youth writers and leaders who are committed to poetry and performance, civic and community engagement, education and equity across the Puget Sound Region. Youth Poet Laureates share their powerful voices, leadership, and love of community at events throughout the region over the course of the year, and also publish their poems in a collection released in May.

Youth Poet Laureates have numerous opportunities and platforms to share their powerful voices, their leadership, and love of Seattle at regional events throughout the course of the year. They also publish a poetry collection, released in May by Poetry NW Editions, when the next Youth Poet Laureate is announced.

The collections of former Youth Poet Laureates are available through Penmanship Books.

To be granted this position this year has given me a louder voice, but it has also made people take me and my writing legitimately.

— Lily Baumgart, 2017/18 Youth Poet Laureate

Azura Tyabji is an emerging poet, prose writer and justice seeker cuspinig new genres and bending Documentary style poetry. A modern day apostle of unrepentant certitude . . . May all the established poets hold [this] new work, by [this] new author closely.

— Anastacia-Renee, Seattle Civic Poet, Author of (v.), Forget it, and Answer (Me)

She is a ferocious and talented 20-year-old writer. If you don’t buy her book, I will not be your friend.

— Jess Walter, on 2016/17 Youth Poet Laureate Maven Gardner

Ways to Get Involved

For Students

The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to poetry and performance, civic and community engagement, education and equity across the Puget Sound Region. Along with the prestigious title of Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, the winning poet will also get a book deal from local publisher Poetry NW Editions to publish their first collection of poems.

The Seattle Youth 
Poet Laureate will have numerous opportunities and platforms to share their powerful 
voice, their leadership, and love for the city at events throughout the region over the course of the following year. A group of esteemed judges chooses eight finalists from the application pool, and selects one teen to be honored with the title of Youth Poet Laureate and a runner-up Youth Poet Ambassador at the annual Commencement Performance.

For Teachers

Know a star poet, rapper, or leader who you think would be a fantastic fit for the title of 2019 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate? Submissions for the 2020/21 Youth Poet Laureate will open next spring. View the previous year’s application here.

For Community Members

Interested in inviting the current Youth Poet Laureate to speak at your event? Fill out the Speaker Request Form, and email wits@lectures.org to be connected.

To connect with current or past Youth Poet Laureates, email wits@lectures.org.

Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Leaders

Wei-Wei Lee

2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate

Maia Pody

2019/20 Youth Poet Ambassador

Azura Mizan Tyabji

2018/19 Youth Poet Laureate

Kiyoshi Sakauye

2018/19 Youth Poet Ambassador

Emrys Foster

2018/19 & 2016/17 Youth Poet Ambassador

Lily Baumgart

2017/18 Youth Poet Laureate

Namaka Auwae-Dekker

2017/18 Youth Poet Ambassador

Maven Gardner

2016/17 Youth Poet Laureate

Joseph Hairston

2016/17 Youth Poet Ambassador

Leija Farr

2015/16 Youth Poet Laureate