The National Youth Poet Laureate Competition

The National Youth Poet Laureate Competition is an initiative of Urban Word, in collaboration with local youth literary arts organizations across the country; and championed by the leading national literary and arts organizations, including the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities, the Library of Congress, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, PEN Center USA, and Cave Canem. Our program identifies powerful youth poets that have a history of artistic success, civic and community engagement, social justice, and youth leadership. Over 30 partner cities are participating in our national network of Youth Poet Laureates and have the opportunity to submit to the National Youth Poet Laureate Competition.

How Does It Work?

The National Youth Poet Laureate Nominations will be open today October 15- November 15th of 2018. There will be five Youth Poet Laureates chosen, one from each region in the nation, selected by a panel of judges. All nominations will be judged using the same rubric and candidates with the highest numbers ranked will be chosen to represent that region. Each network member organization is allowed to submit as many Youth Poet Laureates that still fit into the qualifying age group 13-19. The candidate must have held the Youth Poet Laureate title in their city to apply. We encourage partner organizations to work with your current and past (age qualified) Youth Poet Laureates on their applications. The selections for the National Youth Poet Laureate Competition will be announced on January 4, 2019. Each of the 5 Regional winners will also be named as finalists for the National Youth Poet Laureate title. Regional Youth Poet Laureates will also receive: All-expense paid trip to perform at the National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement on April 4, 2019 at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. *the National Youth Poet Laureate will be announced at this event. An artwork/poster featuring their likeness and poetry produced by artist Mer Young, and produced by the Amplifier Foundation. *each poet and partner organization will receive 15 copies of this poster. All-expense paid writing retreat in Provincetown, MA in the fall of 2019, with poet Mahogany L. Browne and others.

How To Submit?

Please apply directly to your region using the appropriate link below. Prepare to submit demographic and contact information about poet and organization, nine poems on one document, CV, short biography and photo of poet, as well as 1 poem on the topic “Poetry and Democracy” [for a total of 10 poems]. Please contact National Youth Poet Laureate Director Dr.Camea Davis at with any questions or concerns.

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