Commemorating National Poetry Month, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs are pleased to announce Houston’s fifth Poet Laureate.
Emanuelee Outspoken Bean is known as a performance poet, writer, compassionate mentor and electric entertainer. In 2017, Bean was the Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Artist in Residence. He is also a recipient of the 2016 Andy Warhol Foundation’s The Idea Fund grant, and was named VICE Media’s “Poet of the People 2018.”
“It is my honor to select Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean as the fifth Houston Poet Laureate. I am confident he will inspire Houstonians, from Northside to Sunnyside, in the form of spoken word,” said Mayor Turner. “Outspoken Bean will demonstrate to the state of Texas and the nation that Houston is resilient, and that arts and culture are part of the strength of our resilience.”
“The Houston Public Library is pleased to join the Mayor in celebrating Houston’s fifth Poet Laureate, Mr. Emanuelee Outspoken Bean. We share in Bean’s passion to create experiences through poetry and storytelling for Houstonian’s of all ages,” said HPL Director, Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson. “We are thrilled to work with him to elevate and showcase these poetic experiences through a multifaceted approach that will include spoken word and technology.”
Outspoken Bean was selected through a competitive Poet Laureate application and interview process by a panel of literary arts experts as part of the Houston Poet Laureate Committee. The 2021-2023 Houston Poet Laureate Committee, a diverse group of poets, scholars, literary experts and community representatives, contributed to the selection process, and consisted of the Poet’s Laureate emeritae: Gwendolyn Zepeda, Dr. Robin Davidson, Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, and Leslie Contreras Schwartz.
Also serving were Radu Barbuceanu of Visit Houston; Dr. Ginger Ko of Sam Houston State University; Jennifer Julian of Texas Southern University; Roderick Robinson of Public Poetry; and Harrison Guy of the Fifth Ward Cultural District. Non-voting members include Monique Mogilka of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Carmen Peña Abrego with the Houston Public Library.
Outspoken Bean’s two-year term begins April 2021 and runs through April 2023. As Poet Laureate, he will work closely with the Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs to implement his Community Outreach Project, “Space City Mixtape,” an album of 20-track spoken word and creative audio experiences of Houston and by Houstonians. He will also conduct eight workshops in Houston Public Libraries, and create videos and poems to share on social media.
“This is an incredible honor. My excitement is over the moon,” said Outspoken Bean. “My intentions are to bring light, creativity and to reach as many people through poetry and storytelling as possible through my tenure as Poet Laureate.”
“From the beginning, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs has provided the honorarium to each Poet Laureate,” said Debbie McNulty, director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “We get to know these fantastically talented poets really well during their terms, and it is inspiring to witness their service to our city. We welcome Emanuelee Outspoken Bean and can’t wait to start working together.”
The Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs will host a special virtual program to meet and hear from the new Houston Poet Laureate Outspoken Bean. Remarks by Mayor Sylvester Turner and the 2019-2021 Houston Poet Laureate, Leslie Contreras Schwartz, will be followed by a performance by Apollo Chamber Players.
The virtual event will take place Friday, April 30, 2021 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public on Facebook Live. Registration is not required. In order to view the livestream on Facebook, without an account, simply select “not now” when prompted.
The New Jersey born, San Antonio raised, H-Town-based Bean, who grew up a “military brat,” was introduced to the arts and world cultures at a very young age and has not let go of it. “An energetic pioneer for poetry, in all its different sizes and shapes, Bean is dedicated to making sure that poets get heard,” Emily Hinds of Arts and Culture Magazine wrote of Bean. Bean uses poetry to engage different mediums and institutions to create new and engaging art, such as being the first poet to perform on Houston Ballet’s main stage with their production “Play.”
Bean has also been commissioned to write and perform a national campaign on diversity for Pabst Blue Ribbon and VICE while creating/producing his own festival Plus Fest: the EVERYTHING plus POETRY Festival. In 2008, Bean helped develop Texas’ largest youth poetry slam organization and slam team, Meta-Four Houston, with Shannon Buggs and DiverseWorks, through which he stills coaches and uses it as a vehicle to mentor Houston’s youth. He started performing spoken-word in 2005.