Youth Poet Laureate Icon

Youth Poet Laureate

Honoring young writers committed to civic and community engagement.

MOTHERLAND is available to purchase!

We’re thrilled to announce the June 2021 release of Motherland, the very first collection of poetry by the 2020/21 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Bitaniya Giday, published by Poetry NW Editions. Motherland is available to purchase both online and in-store at Open Books: A Poem Emporium or online at Amazon.com. To get updates as Motherland becomes available at stores near you, click “notify me!”

The 2021/22 Youth Poet Laureate Release

Join us for a moment of celebration, contemplation, and healing found in the brave voices of the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate program. Scroll below to view our new video gallery, which celebrates the announcement of Zinnia Hansen as the 2021/22 Youth Poet Laureate, as well as original works from the entire 2021/22 YPL cohort!

“Poetry Resonates”⁠—An Interview with Youth Poet Laureate Wei-Wei Lee

Wei-Wei Lee, our 2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate, is a poet whose work pays tribute to both Taiwan and America in her writing. This summer, we sat down virtually with Wei-Wei to ask her about everything from coping with writer’s anxiety, to how place informs her creative practice, to the advice she would give youth writing […]

"I hope we grow tender enough, again."

Azura Tyabji, Seattle’s 2018/19 YPL, captures Seattle’s growing pains on KUOW.

The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) program aims to identify youth writers and leaders committed to poetry, performance, civic and community engagement, education, and equity across the Puget Sound region.

The Youth Poet Laureate, along with their YPL cohort, has numerous opportunities and platforms to share their powerful voices, their leadership, and love of Seattle at regional events throughout the course of the year.

The Youth Poet Laureate also publishes a poetry collection, released in May by Poetry NW Editions, when the next Youth Poet Laureate of the following year is announced. All students selected as finalists will also be invited to be part of a year-long cohort of poets working together in workshops, on collaborative print projects, and at public readings.

Beauty is a tongue you will learn to speak.

— “For Black Boys,” by 2015/16 Youth Poet Laureate Leija Farr

It’s a strange thing to know that you’re loved. A foreign concept, but these, surely, are foreign lands.

— Wei-Wei Lee, 2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate

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)

Ways to Get Involved

For Students

Submissions for the 2021/22 Youth Poet Laureate program are now closed. View last year’s submission guidelines.

The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to poetry, performance, civic and community engagement, education, and equity across the Puget Sound Region.

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.

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. And, at events throughout the region over the course of the next year, the Seattle Youth 
Poet Laureate will have numerous opportunities and platforms to share their powerful 
voice, leadership, and love for the city.

For Teachers

Submissions for the 2021/22 Youth Poet Laureate program are now closed. View last year’s submission guidelines.

Know a star poet, rapper, or leader who you think would be a fantastic fit for the title of Seattle Youth Poet Laureate? Encourage them to apply!

For Community Members

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

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

Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Cohorts

Zinnia Hansen

2021/22 Youth Poet Laureate

Sejal Akerkar

2021/22 YPL Cohort Leadership Ambassador

Bayla Cohen-Knott

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Wilhelmina Colby-Oosterwyk

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Ricardo Gurango

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Ayana Islas

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Henry Morgan

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Avni Rao

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Margot Ratchman

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Tallula Shaughnessy

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Zora Sowinska

2021/22 YPL Cohort

Bitaniya Giday

2020/21 Youth Poet Laureate

Helena Goos

2020/21 Youth Poet Cohort Leadership & Coordination Ambassador

Nathalie M.

2020/21 Youth Poet Public Outreach & Exposure Ambassador

Victor Xia

2020/21 Youth Poet Digital Engagement Ambassador

Wei-Wei Lee

2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate

Maia Pody

2019/20 Youth Poet Ambassador

Azura Mizan Tyabji

2018/19 Youth Poet Laureate

Emrys Foster

2018/19 & 2016/17 Youth Poet Ambassador

Hiroshi Sakauye

2018/19 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

Emrys Foster

2018/19 & 2016/17 Youth Poet Ambassador

Joseph Hairston

2016/17 Youth Poet Ambassador

Leija Farr

2015/16 Youth Poet Laureate

Laura Da’

WITS Writer, Youth Poet Laureate Mentor

Arianne True

Hamilton International Middle School, Licton Springs K-8 School, Nathan Hale High School, Seattle World School, Youth Poet Laureate Mentor

Aaron Counts

Co-founder of Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program

Matt Gano

Renaissance School of Art & Reasoning, co-founder of Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program