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The City of Boston is looking for its next Youth Poet Laureate. The Boston Youth Poet Laureate program (BYPL) was created in cooperation with national youth literary organization, Urban Word, and local youth literary leaders, Boston Public Library, MassLEAP, and 826 Boston to promote appreciation for poetry. Similar to the Poet Laureate's civic 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 create 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 enthusiastic about fulfilling your duties and serving in a public facing role.
  • Be willing to present your work in public.
  • Be comfortable with public speaking. 

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/their 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:

  • Earn a $2,000 honorarium each year.
  • Receive mentoring from the City of Boston Poet Laureate.
  • Publish a collection of poems.

Entry Rules
Applications must include the following:     

  • Artist Statement and Biography - 250 words.
  • Artist Intent - What are some of your goals if awarded BYPL? (150 words.)
  • Up to five (5) original poems, ten pages, total. One of the poems should explore the theme "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 opportunities to travel to out-of-state for Regional and even National Youth Poetry competitions.


  • Digital entries strongly preferred, but you may also mail in printed entries 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 
  • 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.

Submissions - both digital and printed – must be received by November 14, 2021.

Selection Process
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 Youth Poet Laureateship.

Ten finalists will receive an interview with the Selection Panel on December 4, 2021 and will be notified by mid December 2021. Boston Youth Poet Laureate will be announced  at Finalist Showcase on January 15, 2022 at Boston Public Library Central.

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.

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