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Local Youth to Be the Face of Poetry in Virginia

(May 6, 2016)  – Hampton Roads leaders in Arts and Education and Teens With a Purpose is pleased to announce that Dayana Lee has been crowned Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) 2016.  Dayana claimed the title at the combined event: Hampton Roads is Louder Than a Bomb Middle School Slam & Youth Poet Laureate Announcement presented at the beautiful Virginia MOCA Museum.

Dayana Z. Lee, Norfolk born, calls herself a “youth artivist”.  She uses her art to inspire her generation to be pivotal thinkers united for the good of humankind. Ms. Lee has lived in Chesapeake, Portsmouth and now resides in Virginia Beach.  Dayana joined the world of spoken word poetry in 2014.  She has been a finalist in 2014 and 2015 Move Maker Awards that honors young people who are making a difference in their community while tackling personal obstacles.  To help sharpen her craft, Dayana has competed at Hyperbole, an event that brings students from Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia together for an annual youth poetry competitions.  This is her second year as part of the Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Slam team that represents this region during the world’s largest youth poetry competition and festival.  This year, Dayana is team captain!  Besides her work as a poet with a purpose, Dayana is also active at Landstown High School where she is a member of the Varsity cheerleading team, Varsity track team, DECA and staff editor for the school newspaper. Dayana was a finalist selected to go to Nationals from the DECA state leadership conference.  She attends Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk, Virginia and she believes she was created to be a World Changer!

It is because of TWPs commitment to elevating the youth voice to the stratosphere that they have included the presentation of the Youth Poet Laureate program into their repertoire of creative youth development programming.  YPL aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, and leadership and education across Hampton Roads.  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. This project is also supported nationally by PEN Center USA and the Academy of American Poets.

Dayana is only the second youth poet laureate in the state of Virginia, following the inaugural youth poet from Norfolk, Raven Bland.  Along with receiving the prestigious title of Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate, Dayana will also be given a book deal from Penmanship Books to publish her first collection of poems, as well as a library tour.  Besides her compelling original poetry, Dayna also scored exceptionally high due to her character and leadership demonstrated in her work as an artivist (artist and activist).   The Youth Poet Laureate will have numerous opportunities and platforms to share their powerful voices, their leadership, and love of Hampton Roads at numerous events. Candidates hailed from Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Nia Naomi Johnson from Suffolk came in as the runner-up and as such becomes the Youth Poet Ambassador which will also afford her the opportunity to share her original poetry at local civic events.

The announcement of the 2016 Youth Poet Laureate shared the stage with another TWP first, the Hampton Roads Is Louder Than a Bomb Middle School Poetry Festival.  Budding poets participated in the HEAR THIS! standards-based, school based program facilitated by trained TWP poet mentor/teaching artist, Richard Love.  It culminated with the Hampton Roads Is Loader Than a Bomb festival.  The novice youth poets took the stage with riveting original poems that told their truths. “It was with great excitement to see our students so confident and talented on stage.” Robert Lanz, School Counselor, Bayside Sixth Grade Campus.

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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