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Youth Poet Laureate

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

Introducing the New Youth Poet Laureate

Congratulations to Azura Mizan Tybaji, the 2018/19 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate! Azura and the 2018/19 YPL Ambassadors, Emrys Foster and Kiyoshi Sakauye, will represent the city at cultural events held throughout the year.

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.

Blood Melody by Angel Gardner, 2016/17 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, is available for purchase through Penmanship Books!

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

The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools and Urban Word NYC. Founded in Seattle in 2015 by writers Matt Gano and Aaron Counts, the YPL program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, human relations, diversity, and education.

The Youth Poet Laureate not only has numerous opportunities and platforms to share their powerful voice, their leadership, and love of Seattle at events throughout the region over the course of the year, but also publishes a collection of poems that is released in May when the next Youth Poet Laureate is announced.

The collections of former Youth Poet Laureates are available to order from 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

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

Attention all young poets, rappers, leaders, and activists ages 14-19 living in Seattle and the greater Puget Sound region! Are you interested in representing the city as the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate? WITS will be opening submissions for the 2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate at the end of March 2019. Check back for details then! 

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 Northwest 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. Seattle Arts & Lectures and our other partners recognize that youth voice and community engagement are vital for empowering young people to effect positive changes in their communities and beyond.

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 2018/19 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate? Applications are currently closed, but next year’s Youth Poet Laureate contest will be open March 2019.

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

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