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.

Amanda Gorman is the founder and executive director of One Pen One Page, a nonprofit that promotes literacy and leadership through creative writing workshops, and the Editor-in-Chief of the OPOP online literary magazine, which works to highlight and empower youthful voices through literal and visual international storytelling. She has served as the inaugural Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate, a United Nations youth delegate in New York City, an ANNpower Vital Voices fellow in Washington, D.C., and an ANNpower Vital Voices global delegate in London. She is an ambassador, speaker, editor, and leader of diversity initiatives at the online platform School of Doodle. Her work has been published in her book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, as well as The Wall Street JournalElle, and The Huffington Post, among other platforms.

more about the national youth poet laureates

National Youth Poet Laureate program

Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay

Ladnajita Mukhopadhyay was a finalist for the title of national youth poet laureate.
Mukhopadhyay is a senior at Hume Fogg Magnet High School. A seventeen-year-old immigrant from India, she aspires to make a mark in America for her entire family. She plays five instruments (the guitar, ukulele, mandolin, piano, and fiddle) and has an indie/folk EP on iTunes called Orange that was released at the end of 2015. Mukhopadhyay served as Nashville, Tennessee's first youth poet laureate in 2015.

Nkosi Nkululeko

Nkosi Nkululeko was a finalist for the title of national youth poet laureate.

Nkululeko was the 2016 New York City youth poet laureate. He is a fellow at both Callaloo and The Watering Hole and has received nominations for the American Voices Award, a Pushcart Prize, and Independent Best American Poetry. Nkululeko was also a member of the 2014 Urban Word NYC Slam Team and 2015 Urbana-NYC Slam Team. His work is currently published or forthcoming in decomPNo TokenThe New SoundRose Red Review, and Hobart. He resides in Harlem, New York.

Hawa Rahman

Hawa Rahman was a finalist for the title of national youth poet laureate. 

Hawa Rahman was the first-ever Detroit youth poet laureate. A recent graduate of the Detroit International Academy of Young Women, Rahman is also a Gates Millennium Scholar and a double-major in product design and arts education at the College for Creative Studies.

Andrew White

Andrew White was a finalist for the title of national youth poet laureate.

Houston's 2016 inaugural youth poet laureate, White is a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where he majored in creative writing. He is a founding member of the Houston Art for the New Generation teen leadership group at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Writers in the Schools Youth Advisory Council. 

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.