Congratulations to Stephanie Pacheco of the Bronx and to runner-up, Sabrina Guo of Oyster Bay
“Our stories are calling to be told. We are the storytellers and changemakers we’ve been waiting for.”
On April 28, 2023, 19-year-old Stephanie Pacheco of the Bronx was named the inaugural New York State Youth Poet Laureate at the National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) in Hawaii. The New York State Youth Poet Laureate program is offered as a partnership between Urban Word and Teachers & Writers Collaborative.
Pacheco was among six state youth poets laureate recognized at the April event. Titles announced at the event included the 2023 National Youth Poet Laureate and 2023 State Youth Poets Laureate from Hawaii, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, New York, and Tennessee.
Stephanie Pacheco was selected among 99 applicants to represent New York as the first ever Youth Poet Laureate for New York State. Sabrina Guo of Oyster Bay, Long Island, was selected as the runner-up. The selection committee was made up of three distinguished New York poets: New York State Poet Laureate Willie Perdomo, Onondaga County Poet Laureate Georgia Poppoff, and Trace Howard DePass, a former Queens Teen Poet Laureate.
“It is such an honor to be awarded this title,” said Pacheco. “I am so thankful to all the folks at Urban Word and Teachers and Writers Collective for this opportunity. I am also so thankful to my community and NYC family for lifting me up to the light and telling me I can touch it. Our stories are calling to be told. We are the storytellers and changemakers we’ve been waiting for.”
Along with the official title of New York State Youth Poet Laureate and a cash prize of $500, Pacheco will receive both high-level performance and learning opportunities and the chance to apply to be the National Youth Poet Laureate. She will join a community of other talented young poets, including Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate (2017), who read her poetry at the 2021 Presidential inauguration.
Pacheco was selected for the quality of her poetry, a display of literary citizenship, and a commitment to activism. The judges admired Pacheco’s voice, cadence, and attention to content and form. Writing in a contemporary lineage, Pacheco bridges intersecting Black, Caribbean, Dominican, and African identities, and she displays loyalty to community through her poetry and civic engagement. Her poetry evokes a rhythm unique to Bronx and uptown poets, and the speaker of her poems stands strong in their identity and experience while inviting readers into a space of community and understanding.
The National Youth Poet Laureate Program aims to identify young writers and leaders committed to creating change through civic engagement and poetic excellence. Teachers & Writers Collaborative partners with Urban Word on the Youth Poet Laureate program in New York State. “Young poets like Stephanie give me hope for the future,” said Asari Beale, Executive Director of Teachers & Writers Collaborative. “We’re honored to partner with Urban Word to inspire more youth to write poetry. It’s a practice that fosters compassion and builds connections through language. We should all do it!”
The National Youth Poet Laureate Program is an initiative of Urban Word in collaboration with local arts and literary organizations, Arts Councils and library systems; and is championed by the leading organizations in our field, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Coalition, the Library of Congress, the National Parks Service, and the Kennedy Center. Learn more at www.youthlaureate.org