Who Wants to Be Denver's New Youth Poet Laureate?

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Calling all poets, spoken-word artists, emcees and writers: Applications are now being accepted for the Denver Youth Poet Laureate, with anyone between the ages of fourteen and twenty who lives in the seven-county metro area (and plans to say here for at least a year) eligible. The title includes a $3,000 scholarship and a book deal with Penmanship Books. The deadline is November 25, and the five finalists will perform at the inauguration ceremony on Friday, December 9, at Youth on Record, 1301 West Tenth Avenue.

"Traditionally, a poet laureate position has been viewed as like a prize, because it kind of is — it's an acknowledgement of the fact that you've done all of these great things for your community, and we want to acknowledge you." That's how Ken Arkind, the poet behind Minor Disturbance, explained why he and others created the program two years ago. "Laureate is kind of a job, something you have to earn why you have it. The idea is that it gives you, as an artist — especially as a poet — a much higher platform to talk about change and things that are important."

Toluwanimi Obiwole, a member of Minor Disturbance and student at the University of Colorado Boulder, was named Denver's first Youth Poet Laureate in March 2015. With the position came the opportunity to perform and speak at local events, including Mayor Michael Hancock’s second inauguration, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado Summit and the MLK Marade.

“Why not completely do what is in your power to change what you can change?” Obiwole told us last spring. “I want to utilize resources all over the city in order to create spaces and to facilitate a Denver that is friendlier to the arts, a Denver that truly wants to represent its population.”

Want to represent? Here's how to apply:

Submit 5 Original Poems / Raps / Performances (and/or YouTube Links to your poems).

Submit at least one poem that speaks to the themes of Human Relations, Diversity and Social Justice.

Include a RESUME that includes your name, address, phone # and email, AS WELL AS detailing all of your accomplishments, community service, after school programs, volunteer experiences and awards (if you want, you may use the template included in the booklet or ask your teacher to help).

Download the rules booklet here.

The deadline for all applications is November 25.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.