poem index

National Youth Poets

For young poets today, there is no dearth of programs across the United States that aim to engage them in the art form and encourage them to use poetry as a means of expression, education, and civic participation. Perhaps foremost among those programs are two national initiatives: the National Youth Poet Laureate and the National Student Poet programs.

National Youth Poets Laureate

The National Youth Poet Laureate initiative was founded by Urban Word, an organization that provides free literary arts education and youth development programs in creative writing, spoken word poetry, playwriting, college prep, literature, and hip-hop. In 2008, Urban Word launched the nation’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate program, in New York City, followed by the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate program in 2014. Since then, Urban Word has launched Youth Poet Laureate programs in thirty-five additional cities across the country. In 2017, Urban Word and Youth Speaks teamed up with the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities to create the National Youth Spoken Word Ambassador program, the first government recognition program for young spoken word poets. The five spoken word ambassadors were chosen from a pool of youth poet laureates across the country based on their writing skills and their commitment to social justice and civic engagement; they were all finalists in the considerations for a national youth poet laureate.

In April of 2017, Amanda Gorman was named as the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States of America. In april of 2018, Patricia Frazier was  named the second National Youth Poet Laureate.


more about the national youth poet laureates

Patricia Frazier

Patricia Frazier was named  the 2018 National Youth Poet Laureate.

Artist and activist Patricia Frazier is Chicago's second youth poet laureate. Frazier grew up in the Ida B. Wells Homes in Bronzeville and later in Englewood. She was a two-time finalist of the Louder Than a Bomb spoken word competition while a student at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep. Her debut collection of poems, Graphite, is forthcoming next summer from Haymarket Books.

William Lohier

William Lohier was a finalist for the title of national youth poet laureate.
William Lohier is a sixteen-year-old Brooklyn native and a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School, where he holds leadership positions in the Black Student League and the debate team. He is a new member of the Urban Word NYC Youth Board and was name New York City's 2018 Youth Poet Laureate. 


Rukmini Kalamangalam

Rukmini Kalamangalam was a finalist for the title of national youth poet laureate.

Rukmini Kalamangalam is a senior at Carnegie Vanguard High School in Houston, Texas. Prior to her induction as Houston's youth poet laureate in 2017, she was on Houston's youth slam poetry team, Meta-Four Houston, in 2015 and 2016. in 2018, she was named youth poet laureate of the Southwest and a national youth poet laureate ambassador. Her poem "After Harvey" was set to music by the Houston Grand Opera. She has been published by Houston Chronicle, ABC 13 Visions, Houston Public Media, and The Apprentice Writer. She has been recognized by the Harris County Department of Education and nationally by  Scholastic Writing Awards.

Mila Cuda

Mila Cuda was a finalist for the title of national youth poet laureate. 

On June 10, 2017, Mila Cuda was named the Los Angeles County youth poet laureate. She attends Wellesley College in Massachusets.

Cassidy Martin

Cassidy Martin was a finalist for the title of national youth poet laureate.

Cassidy Martin is a junior at Nashville Big Picture High School and presently works at the Nashville Public Library in Madison. In 2016 she was inaugurated as Nashville's second youth poet laureate and in 2017 was inaugurated as the regional spoken word ambassador of the Southeast by Urban Word.

National Student Poets

The National Student Poets program, presented by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, is the country’s highest honor for youth poets presenting their original work. Each year five exemplary high school poets are selected from among the national medalists in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards by a jury of literary leaders in education and the arts. These students then embark on a year of service as national youth poetry ambassadors.

Read more about the National Student Poets program below.
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National Student Poets Program

Annie Castillo

Annie Castillo is a student at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia, and she has participated in poetry workshops, online seminars, and the Shakespeare’s Sisters program at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Her poetry addresses adolescence, self-discovery, gander, and nature. Castillo is the national student poet of the Southeast region.

Kinsale Hueston

Kinsale Hueston is a student at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in Corona del Mar, California, where she is the founder and president of the Native American Culture Club and a member of the Spanish National Honor Society. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, she serves as an intern for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and writes poetry about modern issues facing her tribe. Hueston is the national student poet of the West region.

Ben Lee

Ben Lee is a student at The Blake School in Edina, Minnesota, where he serves on the student council, two varsity sports teams, and two vocal ensembles. A descendent of the poet Robert W. Service, he writes poetry inspired by his Korean and Canadian heritage and his roots in the Midwest. Lee is the national student poet of the Midwest region. 

Juliet Lubwama

Juliet Lubwama is a student at Downington STEM Academy in Downington, Pennsylvania, where she captains the school's speech and debate team. Lubwama, who is the daughter of Ugandan immigrants, is interested in mental health advocacy and hopes to become a neurologist. Lubwama is the national student poet of the Northeast region. 

Camila Sanmiguel

Camila Sanmiguel is a student at John B. Alexander High School in Laredo, Texas, where she is the founder of the school’s Model United Nations. She has also served as an intern for the U.S. District Court in Southern Texas. Sanmiguel, a second-generation Mexican-American, sees poetry as a way to understand and empathize with diverse groups of people. Sanmiguel is the national student poet of the Southwest region.