Are you a young poet between the ages of 13-19?

Are you interested in finding new ways to be a leader in your community?

Applications for the next New York State Youth Poet Laureate are now open! 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.

The deadline for applications is February 29, 2024

Along with the official title and a cash prize of $500, the NYS Youth Poet Laureate gets both high-level performance and learning opportunities and the chance to apply to be the National Youth Poet Laureate. They 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!

Learn more about the rules and eligibility here.


February 2024

The next application period will open February 1, 2024. Check this page again for a link to the submission form.  


April 2024

The top 10 submissions will be reviewed by a panel of distinguished poets and writers. The New York State Youth Poet Laureate will be announced in April 2024. 


Fall 2024

The New York State Youth Poet Laureate will be eligible to apply to be the National Youth Poet Laureate in the fall of 2024 and each year until they turn 19.

Who is eligible to apply to be the New York State Youth Poet Laureate?

  • Anyone age 13-19 (at the time of submission) living in New York State


When and how can poets apply?

  • Eligible poets can apply beginning February 1, 2024. A link will be available on this page to submit a portfolio online.
  • Submission Materials include:
    • Contact information
    • A portfolio of 3 poems in a PDF or Word Doc
    • Resume/curriculum vitae (CV) information. In order to collect the CV/resume information, there are text fields for contestants to “celebrate themselves” and enter information regarding school and extracurricular participation, community and civic engagement, awards and accolades, and more. Uploading a CV or resume document is no longer required.
    • There are also additional survey questions that help Urban Word develop a better understanding of the young people they serve. These questions will not affect applicant scores.


What can I do now to prepare for the application?

  • Work on writing, revising, and polishing so you will have 3 finished poems by the next application period.
  • Think about the ways you are engaged in your community: Do you volunteer? Do you lead a club at your school? Are you civically engaged in some way? These will be good things to list on your CV. 


What does the New York State Youth Poet Laureate win?

  • During the summer of 2024, the NYS Youth Poet Laureate will join other Youth Poets Laureate in a series of activities offered by Urban Word, including:
    • Online Youth Poet Laureate summer camp, including writing workshops with celebrated poets and activism training
    • Regional readings with other Youth Poets Laureate
  • In addition, the NYS Youth Poet Laureate will receive:
    • $500 cash prize and a subscription to Poets & Writers Magazine
    • Eligibility to apply to be the National Youth Poet Laureate in Fall 2024 and each year until they turn 19
    • The opportunity to give readings of their work once or more throughout the year, including at the New York State Poetry Out Loud final event, March 2025.


Does the New York State Youth Poet Laureate have any responsibilities?

  • The Laureate will be asked to read at the NYC Poetry Out Loud final event (March 2025) and at the announcement of the 2025 NYS Youth Poet Laureate, April 2025.  If travel is required, the expenses will be covered by Teachers & Writers Collaborative.
  • The Laureate may be asked to read at other events hosted by Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Participation in these is optional, but they will be great opportunities for the Laureate to engage with the literary arts community.
NY State YPL 2023

Stephanie Pacheco has been selected as the inaugural New York State Youth Poet Laureate!

On April 28, 2023, the first New York State Youth Poet Laureate was named at the Hawaii National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC). You can watch the commencement at MACC’s YouTube channel.

The event included performances that highlight a Youth Spoken Word Cultural Exchange honoring the land, HĀ, and Spoken Word Poetry in the Pacific, featuring Pacific Poets, Urban Word, the 2023 Hawaii State and 2023 National Youth Poet Laureate finalists. At the conclusion of the live streamed National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement, Urban Word announced state winners from California, Connecticut, Kentucky, New York, and Tennessee.

Stephanie Pacheco
was selected as the New York State Youth Poet Laureate 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.

Sabrina Guo was selected as runner up for the inaugural New York State Youth Poet Laureate. The judges admired Guo’s use of the line, her sophisticated control of language, and the universality of her subject matter. The judges were additionally impressed with Guo’s commitment and personal investment in activism, and they commend her for her work.

Congratulations to the 2023 NYS Youth Poet Laureate Finalists:

(alphabetical by last name)

Sahil Gandhi
Sabrina Guo
Madeline Hutchinson
Megumi Jindo
Ola Rose Ndubuisi
Shristi Nigam
Stephanie Pacheco
Elani Spencer
Lehakoe Tserane
Aarna Tyagi
Nikolas Vaccaro
Thisbe Wu
Lauren Zhu


The Youth Laureate was selected by a panel of the following distinguished poets:

Willie Perdomo

Willie Perdomo is a native of East Harlem.  His books are love letters to Cane, Enter the Dragon, and Cooley High. He is the author of Smoking Lovely: The RemixThe Crazy BunchThe Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, and Where a Nickel Costs of Dime.  Winner of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, the New York City Book Award, and a PEN Open Book Award, Perdomo was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. He is co-editor of the anthology, Latínext, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, African Voices, and Best American Poetry 2019.  He teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy and was recently appointed State Poet of New York, 2021-2023.

Georgia Popoff

Georgia A. Popoff is a writer, editor, arts-in-education specialist, and Workshops Coordinator for the YMCA of Central NY’s Downtown Writers Center, where she teaches poetry and creative nonfiction. Her fourth collection of poetry, Psychometry, was released in late 2019 by Tiger Bark Press, and was a finalist for Utica College’s Eugene Nassar Poetry Prize and the CNY Book Award for Poetry. Georgia was recently named Poet Laureate of Onondaga County for a 2-year term of service and was appointed editor for the University of Michigan Press book series on contemporary poets, Under Discussion, in 2022.

Trace Howard DePass

Trace Howard DePass is the author of Self-portrait as the space between us (PANK Books, 2018), which was a finalist for the 2019 Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and the editor of Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2017. He served as the 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens. His work has been featured on television and radio—BET Next LevelBillboardBlavityPoetry FoundationOurs Poetica, and NPR’s The Takeaway—and in print— SAND JournalEntropy MagazineSonora ReviewSplit This RockThe Poetry Project, Bettering American Poetry (Volume 3), & the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, among other publications. DePass is a Poetry Foundation, Teaching Artist Project, & Poets House Fellow.

About the National Youth Poet Laureate Program

The National Youth Poet Laureate program works with local youth literary arts organizations across the United States to identify and celebrate exceptional youth poets who use their voice to inspire change

The program is an initiative of Urban Word, an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization 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 & Humanities, the Library of Congress, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, PEN Center USA, and Cave Canem.