American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Writers in the Schools (WITS) are excited to announce the search for Houston’s next Youth Poet Laureate. The Youth Poet Laureate Program celebrates the city’s rich cultural heritage and diversity by elevating the artistic voice of one of Houston’s top young poets. 

Poets, authors, rappers, songwriters, and spoken-word artists who live in Houston and are 14 to 19 years old may submit an application which is available at witshouston.org. The deadline to apply is September 26th, 2021. 

The selected winner will serve a one-year term as the city’s teen ambassador for the literary arts and will be awarded a $1,000 honorarium. From October 2021 to 2022, the Youth Poet Laureate will make guest appearances and work one-on-one with Houston’s fifth Poet Laureate, Outspoken Bean. As a literary role model, the chosen poet will raise the profile of all poetic forms and illuminate the community through words. Previous Youth Poet Laureates have gone on to perform on national stages, published their work broadly, and received scholarships at top performing universities. 

Mayor Turner explains, “The Youth Poet Laureate program has been a great asset to our city by engaging young people with spoken and written word, and the next Youth Poet Laureate will represent the enormous talent of the up-and-coming generation of Houstonians.”

The Houston Youth Poet Laureate Program is a collaboration among The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA), WITS, and the Houston Public Library.