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 The City of Boston is looking for its first Youth Poet Laureate. The Boston youth poet laureate program is a new program - created in cooperation with national youth literary organization, Urban Word, and local youth literary  leaders, Boston Public Library’s Teen Central, MassLEAP, and 826 Boston - which will be aligned with the work of the successful Boston poet laureate program, which was established in 2008 to highlight literary arts, and to promote appreciation for poetry. Similar to the Poet Laureate's challenge, the Youth Poet Laureate is tasked with inspiring deeper engagement in the written and spoken word.   

Like the City’s Poet Laureate, the Youth Poet Laureate will act as an advocate for poetry, language and the arts, and creates a unique artistic legacy through public readings and civic events. They will also attend a variety of civic functions, participate in poetry events, and oversee special civic projects. The mission for the youth laureateship is to raise the status of poetry in the everyday consciousness of Bostonians. 

The Youth Poet Laureate is a ceremonial and not a political appointment, and is intended to be a significant fixture in Boston's cultural and artistic arena. The Youth Poet Laureate will be able to learn, teach, and be a part of the great literary traditions of Boston. 


The Boston Youth Poet Laureate will be expected to: 

  • Present appropriate works at civic events and attend official functions as a literary ambassador.
  • Enhance current Boston Public School and Boston Public Library poetry programs through engagement and outreach.
  • Act as a resource during National Poetry Month each April.
  • Work in harmony with the City of Boston Poet Laureate.
  • Represent Boston in local and possibly national Youth Poet Laureate competitions. 


Applicants must: 

  • Be 13-18 years of age.
  • Have resided in the City of Boston for a minimum of one year prior to nomination.
  • Display a strong commitment to the community.
  • Be able and enthusiastic to fulfill duties.

NOTE: The committee welcomes candidates regardless of race, gender, belief, national origin, sexual orientation or physical ability. 

Term of Service 

The recommended term of service for the Youth Poet Laureate is two years, based on the calendar year. A Poet Laureate may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms (four years) at the Mayor’s discretion. If the Poet Laureate cannot fulfill his/her term due to illness, relocation, or inability to perform, the Laureate Selection Panel shall select a new Youth Poet Laureate to complete the term. 


The Youth Poet Laureate will receive:

  •  A $500 honorarium each year.
  • Mentoring from the City of Boston Poet Laureate.
  • A published collection of poems while in this role.


Entry Rules 

Candidates may self-nominate or be nominated. Applications must include the following:     

  • Artist Statement and Biography - 250 words.
  • Artist Intent. What are some goals if awarded BYPL? (150 words.)
  • Up to five (5) original poems, ten pages, total. One of the poems should explore the subject: Boston.
  • Proof of City of Boston residency.
  • Candidates should also have written permission and contact info of Parent or Legal Guardian.

***The Youth Poet Laureate position may require minor local travel, and will provide potential opportunity to travel to out-of-state for Regional and even National Youth Poetry competitions. 

NOTE: Digital entries strongly preferred, but you may also mail in printed entries, as directed below: All entries must be submitted in a conventional font (such as Times New Roman) at 12-point size. Do not place name or address on works of poetry. Photocopied poems from publications are acceptable, however, name and/or address cannot be included. Do not staple documents. If return of materials is desired, enclose a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage. 

Faxed or Emailed applications will NOT be accepted. For those submitting mailed applications, please address to: The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture Attn: Youth Poet Laureate Selection Panel Boston City Hall, Room 802 One City Hall Plaza Boston, MA 02201 Submissions - both digital and printed – must be received by November 25, 2019. 

Selection Process 

A Call for Entries will be distributed through various print and online media. Eligible applicants will submit a résumé or curriculum vitae; examples of past-published work; a four-page maximum proposal describing how the applicant will enhance the City of Boston’s literary arts; and confirmation of residence. The selection process will consist of two-phases. After an initial screening of eligible applicants, the Laureate Selection Panel will evaluate all entries and choose its top candidates. Selection Panel will then hold interviews with the final candidates. During the interview, candidates may be asked to read some of their works, along with answering questions related to how they will make use of the Poet Laureateship. 


Submissions must be received by 5:00 pm on November 25, 2019. Please note: this is not a postmark date. 


Applicants receiving an interview with the Selection Panel will be notified by mid December 2019. Boston Youth Poet Laureate will be announced  at Finalist Showcase on January 11, 2020 at Boston Public Library Central Branch. 

Intellectual Property 

All writings, notes, and original materials produced by the Youth Poet Laureate during the tenure as the Youth Poet Laureate shall remain the property of the Youth Poet Laureate. However, the City of Boston will have the right to reproduce these works. 

For further information, contact: 

Tom Johnston, the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture at 617.635.1238 or thomas.johnston@boston.gov.