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OlaRose Ndubuisi has been selected as the second New York State Youth Poet Laureate!

We are delighted to announce in partnership with Urban Word that OlaRose Ndubuisi has been selected as the second New York State Youth Poet Laureate! Please join us in congratulating OlaRose Ndubuisi as well as runner-up Vanessa Niu and all of the talented poets who shared their work through this program.

OlaRose Ndubuisi has been selected as the second Youth Poet Laureate of the State of New York by a panel of judges: New York State Poet Laureate Patricia Spears Jones, Onondaga County Poet Laureate Georgia Popoff, and 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens Trace Howard DePass. The judges were impressed with Ndubuisi’s strong personal mission expressed in her CV and poetry. Jones said of Ndubuisi's poetry: "Young people around the world are physically under threat. To write about dealing with pain and coming to terms with it is extremely important and incredibly difficult."

Vanessa Niu has been selected as runner up for the Youth Poet Laureate of the State of New York. DePass admired the lyrical quality of Niu's writing, and Jones noted that Niu displayed a very sophisticated sense of form. About both poets, Jones said: "There is real beauty in the work."

T&W would also like to commend Herricks High School and teacher Alan Semerdjian of New Hyde Park, New York, for the work they are doing with their students. Three Herricks High School students were included among the finalists for the NYS Youth Poet Laureate.

Congratulations to the 2023 NYS Youth Poet Laureate Finalists:

(alphabetical by last name)

Abuk Aleu

Aiesha Ashfer

Sahil Gandhi

Vivian Huang

Angel Jackson

OlaRose Ndubuisi

Shristi Nigam

Vanessa Niu

Elizabeth Shvarts

Aarna Tyagi

Grace Yu

Katherine Zhao

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

Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Patricia Spears Jones is poet, playwright, anthologist, educator, and cultural activist who migrated from Forrest City, Arkansas in the 1970s. She is now the New York State Poet with the Walt Whitman Citation Merit for Poetry (23-25) and the winner of the prestigious 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers. She is author of The Beloved Community (Copper Canyon, 2023), A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press, 2015), and three other collections. Her work is anthologized in This Is The Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poetry, American Wildflowers: A Literary Field Guide, African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song (Library of America 233), Best American Poetry, 2023 and BAX: Best American Experimental Writing, 2016. Poems published in The New Yorker, The Brooklyn Rail, The Ocean State Review, Ms. Muse, CUTTHROAT: A Journal of the Arts, Plume, Tribes, and The Paterson Review. Nonfiction prose in BOMB, The Poetry Project Newsletter, The Black Scholar, and Killens Review of Arts and Letters and online journals. She edited THINK: Poems for Aretha Franklin Inauguration Day Hat and Ordinary Women: An Anthology of New York City Women Poets. Mabou Mines commissioned and produced Mother and Song For New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting. She co-hosted OPEN HOUSE, a Poets House sponsored radio program, archived at She was the first person of color to co-curate the Wednesday Night Series for St. Mark’s Poetry Project in the 1980s. She organizes the American Poets Congress, serves on the Board of Directors for The Poetry Project, and is a Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Black Earth Institute.

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.

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 will open in Spring 2025! 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.

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 2025

The next application period will open February 2025. Check this page again for a link to the submission form.  


April 2025

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 2025. 


Fall 2025

The New York State Youth Poet Laureate will be eligible to apply to be the National Youth Poet Laureate in the fall of 2025 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 2025. 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 2025, 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 2026.


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 2026) and at the announcement of the 2026 NYS Youth Poet Laureate, April 2026.  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.

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.