As part of National Poetry Month, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the selections of Deborah Mouton – a poet, singer, actress, photographer, wife and mother – as Houston’s third poet laureate and Fareena Arefeen as the city’s second youth poet laureate.
“Houston has so many talented page and performance poets and a strong literary arts community,” said Mayor Turner. “Deborah Mouton has the expertise and passion for poetry that will be invaluable in working with arts groups of all disciplines to take poetry to all of Houston’s neighborhoods.
“Likewise, Fareena is a tremendous choice for the youth poet laureate, and I am impressed by her commitment to serving the community.”
Mouton was chosen through a competitive application and interview process by a panel of local literary arts experts. Her two-year term begins this month and runs through April 2019. She will work closely with the Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs to implement her Community Outreach Project.
She will also conduct eight workshops in Houston Public Libraries, create videos and poems to share on social media and mentor the Houston Youth Poet Laureate.
“It’s such an honor to be chosen to serve Houston as the poet laureate,” Mouton said. “I can’t wait to work with local artists and citizens to shine light on the unique voices and cultural experiences that this great city has to offer.”
Arefeen, a junior at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), succeeds Andrew White, a graduate of HSPVA and a freshman at New York University who now serves as U.S. regional youth poet laureate and is in the running to be the national youth poet laureate. Arefeen’s one-year term includes a scholarship, a book publication and mentorship from Houston’s poet laureate.