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2017 YOUTH POET LAUREATE – Donnovan Pollock

Teens With a Purpose partners with leading national literary arts organizations and city/state agencies to spearhead the Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate program. The program model identifies powerful youth poets that have a history of artistic success, civic and community engagement, and youth leadership. This year marks the third year the organization has presented the program. On May 11th, the newest Youth Poet Laureate was named, Donnovan Pollock, 19, from Norfolk. Donnovan is a Granby High School graduate and a TCC student.

Donnovan’s biggest accomplishments include leading campaigns in the High School Dropout Crisis and criminal justice reform, building relationships with police enforcement and standing up against bullying. He also is proud of performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as part of the poetry team, Hampton Roads Youth Poets, which gained him and the team second place on an international level.

Donnovan’s letter to the judges detailed his value for his poetic voice and how it gives life to him, but furthermore how his voice gives life to his community. The prestigious title also give him the great opportunity to network with Youth Poet Laureate’s from over 30 cities, by having his original poems published in an Anthology and added to the national website. Nia Naomi Johnson, 19, from Suffolk placed second, and will hold the title of Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador. Nia will support Donnovan in his role as the Youth Poet Laureate, and also be lending her poetic voice at civic and community events.

It is because of TWPs commitment to its mission to create varied opportunities for youth to refine their voice, hone their literary arts skills while giving back to community and being role models to their peers, that they have included the presentation of the Youth Poet Laureate program into their repertoire of creative youth development programming. TWP teamed up with award winning literary arts organization, Urban Word and youth organizations around the country for the Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate project.

The other YPL ’17 candidates represented various Hampton Roads regions: Clara Huff, Chesapeake; Ashaunti Horton, Chesapeake; William Williams, Norfolk; Samantha Knapp, Chesapeake; Sarahi Sierra-Delgado, Newport News; and Chozin Johnson, Norfolk.

The National Youth Poet Laureate program/initiative was started by 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 organizations, including the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, PEN Center USA, and Cave Canem.

The 2016 Hampton Roads YPL Dayana ZyaaDay Lee, uses her art to inspire her generation to be pivotal thinkers united for the good of humankind. As part of being the YPL, she received a book deal to publish her original poems “Just My Thoughts” which was available during the announcement. During her tenure, NAACP awarded Dayana with the “Youth Great Expectation Award,’ she performed her original poetry at the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commissions Awards and the WPA Heritage Ceremony, honoring the 200 black women that built the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

About Teens With a Purpose Our mission: TWP-The Youth Movement, also known as Teens With a Purpose, is a 501(c) (3) non-profit youth development organization. Our mission is “to create a platform to empower young people to use their voices, energy, abilities and talent to demonstrate their power to effect personal change and positively impact the lives of others through the arts, peer-led programs and events. We create a safe, non-judgmental environment for self-expression for all young people as we continue to promote healthy life choices.” Simply put, Teens Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders.” Workshops are offered in collaboration with Norfolk Recreation, Parks and Open Space at the VCM Teen Center Monday – Thursdays. For additional, information visit our website

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