Tellers of Stories Amanda Gorman, 19, Named National Youth Poet Laureate

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Amanda Gorman was named the first national youth poet laureate. According to Poets & Writers magazine, April 2017 issue, “The unprecedented title, to be awarded annually, honors a teen poet who demonstrates extraordinary literary talent and a proven record of community engagement and youth leadership”.

“For Gorman, poetry and civic outreach aren’t separate interests. The Harvard University freshman knows firsthand that creative writing can build confidence and a sense of community among young people whose voices are often underrepresented in mainstream dialogue. In 2016, she founded One Pen One Page, a nonprofit organization that provides an ‘online platform and creative writing programs for student storytellers to change the world’. She continues to serve as the organization’s executive director.”

Gorman’s own writing often addresses the intersections of race, feminism and adolescence, as well as the changing landscape of her native Los Angeles. For both her poetry and her advocacy, Gorman has been recognized by Forbes, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the YoungArts Foundation and the OZY Genius Awards. “For me, being able to stand on a stage as a spoken word poet, as someone who overcame a speech impediment, as the descendent of slaves who would have been prosecuted for reading and writing, I think it really symbolizes how–by pursuing a passion and never giving up–you can go as far as your wildest dreams,” said Gorman at the ceremony (last month).

“This (award) represents such a significant moment because never (in my opinion) have the arts been more important than now.”

“I am so grateful to be part of this cohort of young creatives who are taking up their pens to have a voice for what is right and what is just,” Gorman said in her acceptance speech. “I don’t just want to write—I want to do right as well.”