Abigail Willis, 8th grade student at Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Mosely, VA wrote as part of her public poetry project proposal:
“I don’t believe in changing one’s ways just because of society’s standards, but I do believe … talking in someone’s language [can] get your point across. That’s why, for a social change, we must make people want to read poetry—to draw them to it….”
Abigail wants to invite kids in her community to form a “game-changing group” to write and paint poetry and their stories on a wall in an area near downtown Richmond where there is a high negative mental health rate. Using mainly recycled and donated materials, they plan to create a mural, after getting approval from building owners and the HOA. By June, she hopes that there will be poems on the mural “ready to mend the hearts of those who read them.”
I just got this update from Abby, where she shares that she has learned a lot about planning, managing, and collaborating with others. Abby wrote in an email, "When I first said I wanted to do a poetry mural, I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but what I didn't know was that there would be so many obstacles. I've been set back and snubbed off countless times. ... My biggest problem I've had to face is being taken seriously because I'm young. However, I recently found out that I have the principal's, the Superintendent's, and the School Board's support. I'm extremely grateful that they saw how my voice and ideas are worth sharing. They understand that this project is important to the community and I'm very relieved by that."
Abby and the students she's working with have decided on a "moving" poetry display/wall instead of a fixed mural. It will travel around Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) and local libraries through May and June. Abby adds, "Eventually, we will find a forever home for it."
Another highlight in Abby's experiences so far as a VA Young Poet in the Community is that she is being invited to a broadcasted CCPS School Board meeting to share her poem and project on April 12th.
On top of that, Abby and Jaiden Isaiah Brown (who is a VA Young Poet in the Community winner in the Elementary School category) were featured in the CCPS Catalog for their award.
One more from Abigail Willis: "It's been an amazing journey so far and I can't wait for you to see the finished product. When I won the YPIC award I had no idea it would open up this many possibilities. Thank you again for this opportunity,"
12th grade poet Stephanie Gomez made about 150 postcards printed with "Hidden Beat," a poem she wrote. The poem is about how art and music contribute to our general well-being, and have a social and emotional effect on people. She also thinks it reflects the nature of the service that teachers give. "Society often overlooks the strengths and passion they have to teach us," she says, and so she wanted to give a poetry postcard to faculty and staff at Kettle Run High School in Fauquier County, Nokesville, VA because she knows how much they give of themselves every day, and she waned to let them know that "they have been seen."
Stephanie continues, "Teachers often deal with the lack of appreciation and acknowledgment of how much they do for the community. They do so much for us and not a lot of people realize that. I think that the Music and Art department, teachers who do Core classes, Counseling, and the Econ[omics] and Personal Finance department will benefit from this kind of initiative because they help us with our passions and our future goals. They also are there for us when we need them the most. The teachers in those departments don't get enough recognition for what they do for us as students."
She completed her project at the end of February, and has received "extremely positive" responses.
Many postcard recipients put them up on their classroom walls, and also took them home. She has received emails of appreciation from her high school community.
Renee Anderson's poetry project was to make a literary magazine of creative writing with students at her school.
Here's her description of what she did: "I made a flyer and shared it with my school to get students' attention at my call for submissions. Through email, I asked students to write any type of creative writing that centered around Black people/the Black community. However, the main theme and story could be about anything. I got a good mix of submissions about different topics like family, Black history, self-love, and Black queerness."
Renee's plan is to distribute the magazine first in her school, in time for Black History Month. She also plans to give copies to bookstores and libraries in her area, so that other people can enjoy the magazine. She used her YPIC prize money to print initial copies, with additional support from her school. She will continue to seek additional support so more copies can be printed.
Renee sent in a picture of everyone who contributed to Black Dragon. In the bottom row from left to right are Alexandria Rhodes, Sanitihia Tucker, Finn Myrick, and Genesis Pena. In the next row from left to right are Brielle Boykin, Serenity Bassett, Renee Anderson, and Amina Adeyola. In the last row from left to right are Owen Collins, Khepera Martin, and Emily Nation. (Marcel Rose and
Kiara Rowlings-Cole were absent when the photo was taken, but they are part of the project.)
Renee is an 11th grade student at Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in Chester VA.
Shawna Alston is one of our VA Young Poets in the Community, She'll be running this cool poetry workshop March 04, March 18, and April 15 (virtually/on Zoom). Check it out!
If you'd like to sign up, please fill out the Google Form here.
This past Saturday, 19 February, our College Undergraduate Winners were presented in part 2 of a 3-part program called "Changing the World, One Poem at a Time." For those of you who may have missed it, there's a recording you can view here— so proud of these young poets and their words, presence, and clear-eyed vision!
The third and final program in this series is scheduled for 2 April, Saturday, 4:00 PM EST. Links will be published closer to the date. In this program, the High School VA YPIC winners will be presented.
Our 24 Virginia Young Poets in the Community will be working to complete their public poetry projects on or by the end of June 2021. I'll be posting news and documentation on these as I get their updates. Stay tuned!
For Immediate Release
Contact: Luisa A. Igloria
20th Virginia Poet Laureate
vapoetlaureate2020 "at" gmail dot com
Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria & the Poetry Society of Virginia Announce
the 2021-2022 Young Poets in the Community Cohort
Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria and the Poetry Society of Virginia are pleased to announce the 2021-22 Virginia Young Poets in the Community (YPIC). The twenty-four young poets, selected from a pool of applicants from around the commonwealth, will create public poetry projects showing what matters most to them in our world today and how poetry is a tool for social engagement. YPIC is part of Luisa’s 2021 Poet Laureate Fellowship Project for the Academy of American Poets, with support from the Mellon Foundation. With the Virginia Poet Laureate, the young poets will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops, readings and/or other events highlighting their projects. The students will receive certificates and monetary awards for their work.
The incoming cohort of young poets ranges in age from 3rd grade to college senior. Sample projects include a poetry collaboration between law enforcement officers and young African American males; a series of “poetry remixes” based on prominent poems which center on identity; and an anthology of community poems based on residents’ experiences during the pandemic. They are:
● David Babbick, Virginia Beach, 3rd grade, homeschooled
● Jaiden Isaiah Brown, Chester, 5th Grade, C.E. Curtis Elementary School
● Emily Nguyen, Annandale, 5th grade, Camelot Elementary School
● Key’Niyah Clemons, Richmond, 8th grade, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School
● Zoe Lee, Fredericksburg, 7th grade, Edward Drew Middle School
● Abigail Willis, Mosely, 8th grade, Tomahawk Creek Middle School
● Elaine Zhang, Falls Church, 6th grade, Haycock Elementary School
● Renee Anderson, Chester, 11th grade, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School
● Yunseo Chung, Yorktown, 12th grade, Grafton High School
● Stephanie Gomez, Broad Run, 12th grade, Fauquier County Virtual Academy
● Leah Gunn, Bristol, 9th grade, Virginia High School
● Adaevia Jones, Stafford, 11th grade, Colonial Forge High School
● Charlotte Maleski, Arlington, 11th grade, Washington Liberty High School
● Yayra McGodfred, Virginia Beach, 12th grade, Green Run Collegiate High School
● Leia Morissey, Norfolk, 12th grade, Granby High School
● Shannie Porter, Charlottesville, 12th grade, Albemarle High School
● Kashvi Ramani, Ashburn, 10th grade, Rock Ridge High School and
the Academies of Loudoun
● Areen Syed, Norfolk, 10th grade, Norfolk Academy
● Aderonke Adeleke, Chesapeake, sophomore, Old Dominion University
● Shawna Alston, Norfolk, freshman, College of William and Mary
● Virginia Kane, Alexandria, senior, Kenyon College
● Hailey Lanford, Arlington, senior, George Washington University
● Molly Rufus, Alexandria, art organization employee and audio engineering student
● Mariah Salazar-Solórzano, Alexandra, sophomore, Northern Virginia Community College
For the full list of the winners with their mentors, please visit the program’s webpage at http://www.luisaigloria.com/young-poets-in-the-community. Follow the young poets’ projects on social media via #VAYoungPoets.
Congratulations to the 2021 Virginia Young Poets in the Community — a Poet Laureate Fellowship Project of Luisa A. Igloria, in collaboration with the Poetry Society of Virginia
In June 2021, I sent out a call for submissions to one of the projects I created as part of a Poet Laureate Fellowship I received from the Academy of American Poets (with support from the Mellon Foundation)..
I asked young poets in Virginia to show, through their poems, what matters most to them in our world today. In addition, young poets were invited to submit a proposal for a public poetry project, highlighting poetry’s role in strengthening social engagement and emotional well-being. Young Poets in the Community will complete their projects between 1 December 2021 and 30 June 2022.
Applications were invited from young poets throughout Virginia. Alongside a selection committee from the Poetry Society of Virginia (poets Edmund Dowe, Kindra McDonald, Cathy Hailey, and Steven Bucher ~ Thank you!), I read and reviewed each application. We had hoped to choose 5 Young Poets from each of the 6 Poetry Society of Virginia Regions, for a total of 30 Virginia Young Poets in the Community. However, because submission numbers varied so greatly from region to region, the selection committee chose deserving poets (who met all the requirements) from at large.
Young Poets were selected for the quality and resonance of their poems; and for the originality and relevance of their public poetry projects, specifically showing poetry’s role as a tool for social change, community/civic engagement, and emotional well-being.
Each selected Young Poet in the Community will receive a certificate and a cash award; and will work closely with a teacher/mentor from their school or a specifically identified community member, to carry out their proposed poetry project before the end of the 2021-22 school year. The mentor may be a teacher, a relative, a friend, a local artist or writer, or someone who is respected in the students’ community.
Young Poets in the Community may also be invited to participate in virtual conversation/reading programs with the Virginia Poet Laureate to highlight their winning project proposals and contribute to their growth as young poets.
PLEASE JOIN ME IN CONGRATULATING THE 2021 VIRGINIA YOUNG POETS IN THE COMMUNITY ~ and keep an eye out for additional press releases in the coming weeks.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CATEGORY
Jaiden Isaiah Brown, Chester VA
10 years old, 5th Grade, C.E. Curtis Elementary School
Mentor: LaToya W. Brown, School Counselor, Henrico County Public Schools
David Babbick, Virginia Beach, VA
3rd grade, Homeschooled
Mentor: Lydia Netzer, ODU Instructor, Norfolk Academic
Guild Literature teacher, Workshop teacher at
the Muse Writers Center
Emily Nguyen, Annandale, VA
5th grade, Camelot Elementary School
Mentor: Christine Vickers, Librarian, Camelot Elementary School
MIDDLE SCHOOL CATEGORY
Key’Niyah Clemons, Richmond VA
8th grade, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal Shool
Mentor: Elizabeth Johnson, owner of Elizabeth C. Johnson, LLC
Abigail Willis, Mosely VA
8th grade, Tomahawk Creek middle Shool
Mentor: Lisa Emery, Writing Workshop Teacher, Tomahawk Creek Middle School
Elaine Zhang, Falls Church VA
11 years old, 6th grade, Haycock Elementary School
Mentor: Long Chen, mother
NORTH CENTRAL/NORTHWEST REGION
Zoe Lee, Fredericksburg, VA
7th grade, Edward Drew Middle School
Mentor: George Lee, father
HIGH SCHOOL CATEGORY
Renee Anderson, Chester, VA
11th grade, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School
Mentor: Gail Giewont, Teacher, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School
Shannie Porter, Charlottesville, VA
12th grade, Albemarle High School
Mentor: Charlotte Wood, Creative Writing Teacher, Albemarle High School
Yayra McGodfred, Virginia Beach, VA
12th grade, Green Run Collegiate High School
Mentor: Simone Agbodian, mother
Leia Morissey, Norfolk, VA
12th grade, Granby High School
Mentor: Edmund Dowe, Granby High School English Teacher
Areen Syed, Norfolk, VA
10th grade, Norfolk Academy
Mentor: Teresa Stanley, Coordinator of Interspiritual Empowerment Project
Yunseo Chung, Yorktown, VA
12th grade, Grafton High School
Mentor: Deirdre Love, Executive Director, Teens With a Purpose
NORTH CENTRAL/NORTHWEST REGION
Adaevia Jones, Stafford, VA
11th grade, Colonial Forge High School
Mentor: Mrs. Susan Easter, High School teacher
Stephanie Gomez, Broad Run, VA
12th grade, Fauquier County Virtual Academy
Mentor: Steven Bucher, English Teacher, Fauquier County Virtual Academy
Charlotte Maleski, Arlington, VA
11th grade, Washington Liberty High School
Mentor: Chelsea Iorlano, Director/Coordinator of 2020 DC Youth Slam Team
Kashvi Ramani, Ashburn, VA
10th grade, Rock Ridge High School and the Academies of Loudoun
Mentor: Roscoe Burnems, Poet Laureate of Richmond, Virginia
Leah Gunn, Bristol, VA
9th grade, Virginia High School
Mentor: Brad Hutchinson, Creative Writing Teacher, Virginia High School
Aderonke Adelenke, Chesapeake, VA
Sophomore, Old Dominion University
Mentor: Heather Weddington, Creative Writing professor
Shawna Alston, Norfolk, VA
Freshman, College of William and Mary
Mentor: Edmund Dowe, former AP Literature Teacher, Granby High School
Virginia Kane, Alexandria, VA
Senior, Kenyon College
Mentor: Dr. Orchid Tierney, Assistant Professor of English, Kenyon College
Hailey Lanford, Arlington, VA
Undergraduate Senior, George Washington University
Mentor: Thea Brown, Professor of English, George Washington University
Molly Rufus, Alexandria, VA
art organization employee and audio engineering student
Mentor: KaNikki Jakarta, Poet Laureate of Alexandria, VA
Mariah Salazar-Solórzano, Alexandra, VA
Sophomore, Northern Virginia Community College
Mentor: Nicole Tong, Professor of English, Northern Virginia Community College and Poet Laureate of Fairfax County
IMPORTANT UPDATE- DEADLINE EXTENDED to MONDAY 18 OCTOBER
Dear Young Poets in the Community Applicants who have been trying to send their queries in, but are using a public school email account— for many of you, your school email systems have firewalls in place that unfortunately are not allowing me to respond to you. I suggest using a personal email address.
Students, what matters most to you in our world today?
Virginia needs your voice! ~
Show us in your poems; and send us your vision for how to use poetry to build a better world and work creatively with others— Apply to represent your region as a Young Poet in the Community! [Click for Application Form]
Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria invites applications from young poets throughout Virginia at the elementary, middle school, high school, and college undergraduate level. Along with panelists from the Poetry Society of Virginia, she will review applications and select 5 Young Poets in the Community (1 elementary school, 1 middle school, 2 high school and 1 college undergraduate student) in each of the 6 Poetry Society of Virginia regions (Southeastern, Eastern, Northern, Northwestern, Central, North Central).
What should aspiring Young Poets in the Community submit, and when?
On or before 15 October 2021, Young Poets in the Community applicants
must submit by emailing to vayoungpoetsinthecommunity "at" gmail.com
a complete application consisting of::
* An entry/application form including school and personal contact
information and the name and signature of an identified mentor
willing to work with/advise the young poet on their public poetry project
* 2-3 poems (their best or most representative work)
* A short bio and statement written in the third person, describing
how they see poetry to be a tool for social change
* A short description no longer than 2 paragraphs describing the Young Poets
in the Community applicant’s proposal for a poetry project with a public aspect,
highlighting poetry’s role in their community and as a means for strengthening
social engagement and emotional well-being. The proposal should include
a timeline and a target date for completion (between 1 December 2021
and 30 June 2022).
How will Young Poets in the Community be selected?
Young Poets will be selected for the relevance and quality of their poems and/or their performance presence. In addition, applicants must propose a project which they can carry out during the award year (or from Deceber 2021 - June 2022), The project should specifically help enhance awareness and appreciation of poetry and its role as a tool for social change, community/civic engagement, and emotional well-being in their immediate community. Communities may include the Young Poets' schools but may also reach beyond that. The project doesn't have to be grand or large-scale— but it must invite the participation of others, using poetry as central medium.
Each selected Young Poet in the Community will work closely with a teacher/mentor from their school or a specifically identified community member, to carry out their proposed poetry project before the end of the 2021-22 school year. The mentor may be a teacher, a relative, a friend, a local artist or writer, or someone you respect in the community.
The selection panel reserves the right not to give an award in a particular region if submissions are low. We hope to select Young Poets in the Community from each region, as long as entries fulfill our requirements.
What comes with being selected as a Young Poet in the Community for your region?
5 Young Poets in the Community will be selected in each of the 6 Poetry Society of Virginia Regions. We hope to select a total of 30 Virginia Young Poets in the Community. They will receive cash awards, along with a certificate of recognition.
From each PSV Region:
1 Elementary School poet $ 100.00
1 Middle School poet $ 150.00
2 High School poets $ 200.00 each
1 College poet $ 300.00
Young Poets in the Community will also be invited to participate in virtual conversation/reading programs with the Virginia Poet Laureate to highlight their winning project proposals and contribute to their growth as young poets.
Here are just a few examples/ideas for public poetry projects--
(Note: IF you think the project you want to do might require some materials other than what you already own or have access to, along with others in the community you'll be working with, brainstorm on how to keep any costs to a minimum or how to work with other groups on some creative exchange.)
Start/propose a regular poetry page in your school newsletter, in your community newspaper, and other similar local publications.
Organize classmates in your school and write a group poem on a theme of social relevance or emotional well-being, and brainstorm on how to creatively carry it out (for example, some poets in other counties nationwide did things like write a group poem, 2 lines per person, and then videotape themselves reading the entire poem put together). Find out how to disseminate to a wider audience - perhaps get in touch with your local radio or TV station?
Gather friends/classmates (ex: all or select grade levels in your school) and organize a poetry writing and distribution project — for instance, everyone can write a poetry postcard or letter, based on a common theme. Select a theme or themes to assign to each group; each participant can pick someone to mail it to in their county, town, or city (you can look in the phone book). You might want to contact your local radio or TV or media outlets to help you publicize what you are doing and what you hope to achieve.
Organize a poetry reading program in your school or in your community around a theme related to community and individual care and social/emotional engagement; for example, partner with a local climate/other environmental agency or the zoo or a hydroponics farm or a group interested in clean water, clean food, or food sovereignty and ask them to give a talk/tour to you and participating poets who will then write poems from that encounter and publicize their outcomes in some way
Write poetry postcards around a common concern, with invited participants from your community; document (take photos of the postcards and the poems) before actually mailing them to a public official or someone who might be in a position to carry the dialogue on this concern farther or raise it to higher visibility.
Talk to a community organization to see if they might be interested in sponsoring an art+poetry mural in your community; organize and invite other poets and artists in your community to participate.
Create a poetry podcast or conversation project through your school, and invite (a) well-known poet(s) to have a conversation or workshop with you and other students. Choose a theme with public significance.
Write and share poetry in informal workshops or programs with elders, veterans, and other groups within your community; or collect their stories, and turn them into poems.
1 July 2021 Program Launch
15 October Deadline for Entries
30 November Announcement of Young Poets in the Community selections
1 December 2021 to end of academic school year 2022:
Young Poets in the Community will carry out their projects (with a mentor, and with documentation).
This program is a Poet Laureate Fellowship Project of Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria.
For further information, please write to this email address.
This program is made possible by the
Academy of American Poets with support
from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation;
and the Poetry Society of Virginia