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Hampton Roads Youth Are Heard


TWP-The Youth Movement, VA 23504 | P: 757-747-2679 | TWPTheMovement.org

For Immediate Release Contact:

Deirdre Love/Michelle Sims

April 25, 2022 TwpDirect@gmail.com

(757) 747-2679 / 757 503-1608

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Sunday, April 24th, State & Local Government, Educational Leaders, Arts & Culture Organizations, friends, and families gathered Sunday at the Zeider American Dream Theater to experience youth paying poetic homage to Hampton Roads Black History through ImmortALL and to celebrate youth voice through the Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate culminating event. “Poetry is vital for us to comprehend and value the world around us. Poetry, I have no doubt, teaches us all how to live in some way and the poet, the poet-they bare their souls and open us up to the vulnerabilities of being human in an effort to facilitate a connectedness between us …” Delegate Jackie Hope Glass Virginia’s 89th District so eloquently stated as youth poets stood all around her spellbound taking in her every word and every moment of the evening.

Guest speakers also included Mayor Bobby Dyer, City of Virginia Beach, Mayor Kenneth Alexander, City of Norfolk, and Virginia Beach Council Member Aaron Rouse. Mayor Dyer declared April Virginia Beach Poetry Month and Teens With a Purpose the City’s Poetry Partner. Other distinguished guests included Deputy City Manager, Lavoris Pace, Norfolk, Assistant City Manager, Monica Chapperro, Virginia Beach, Assistant Principal Booker T. Washington Mr. Young, and members of the Union Kempsville Princess Anne Training School Board of Directors and Alumni. Aaron Rouse opened his heart to the young poets saying “don’t let this suit and tie fool you… I am from Youngs Park, Norfolk Va, raised in a single-parent home where my mother raised four kids by herself, my father in prison… this is not a finished product….I am not done yet. It is not how you start it is how you are going to finish that matters. We need more creatives in politics; we need you to engage civically, and we need your voice.”

Four (4) youth with stellar poetry, outstanding civic/social engagement, and energy ascended to the titles of Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureates and Ambassadors: Salma Amrour, Suffolk, and Ayana Askew, Norfolk, were both named Youth Poet Laureates. Their scores were identical. The decision was made to name them both Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureates 2022. Areen Syed, Virginia Beach, and Marjorie Cenese, Norfolk were named Youth Poet Laureate Ambassadors as runner-ups to Salma and Ayana.

The youth, their teachers, teaching artist, and Creative Program Manager, Richard Love honored Lt. Co. Belin, an elder and graduate of Virginia Beach’s first African American High School during segregation. Mr. Belin shared his story with the youth poets and they responded to his message and life with various poems and a special dedication.

The evening concluded with a special announcement by Michael Cirelli, CEO and Founder of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program. Mr. Cirelli stated that his announcement “will have a major impact nationally”. Cirelli said the National Youth Poet Laureate program will pilot and trailblaze the State-Wide Youth Poet Laureate Program with Teens With a Purpose. Next year the first Virginia Youth Poet Laureate Program will launch under the leadership of Teens With a Purpose as part of the National Youth Poet Laureate initiative.

The National Youth Poet Laureate is a title held in the United States by a young person who demonstrates skill in the arts, particularly poetry and/or spoken word, is a strong leader, is committed to social justice, and is active in civic discourse and advocacy. It is a title awarded annually to one winner among five finalists, most of whom have been chosen as the Poet Laureate for their city or region.

About Teens With a Purpose: TWP is a Hampton Roads non-profit Creative Youth Development organization located in Norfolk Virginia celebrating over 26 years of experience in providing peer leadership training and development that creates a platform to empower young people to use their voice, creativity, reflection, and action to transform lives and impact communities through the arts and peer-led programs and events. Committed to supporting young people’s stories, ideas, & dreams through creative expression & honoring their lived experiences. Teens Creatively Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders.

Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Teens with a Purpose, Hampton Roads Youth Poets, and in partnership with Urban Word, supported by PEN Center USA and the Academy of American Poets. The Norfolk Youth Poet Laureate Program 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. In 2016, the program expanded to include all of the Hampton Roads cities. Teens with a Purpose is accepting submissions from young poets, rappers, leaders, and activists ages 14-18 throughout Southeastern Virginia. Visit https://www.twp-themovement.org/

About National Youth Poet Laureate Program: National Youth Poet Laureate Program was founded in 2016 by the Urban Word NYC organization, a youth program that provides opportunities for learning creative writing, poetry, spoken word, college prep, literature, and hip-hop to support development and engagement among young adults. The national program is co-sponsored by other local and national organizations that support youth literacy, including Youth Speaks, The President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, The Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Cave Canem, and the Library of Congress. Urban Word NYC has been appointing youth poet laureates of New York City since 2009 after seeing young people get more involved and inspired in civic activity after the election of Barack Obama. Their mission then spread to 35 other cities, states, and regions. In 2016, the organization partnered with the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities to make it a national title.

The national competition for Youth Poet Laureate is held in April at the Library of Congress and is judged by a panel of esteemed poets. In its four years of existence, the award has been granted to four teens, Amanda Gorman of Los Angeles in 2017, Patricia Frazier of Chicago in 2018, Kara Jackson also of Chicago in 2019, and Meera Dasgupta of New York City in 2020.

To be chosen as the National Youth Poet Laureate, young people go through an in-depth application process that includes evaluation of their work, poetry and artistic skills, as well as their in-school and extracurricular activities. These activities collectively must show a desire and action to improve and engage their communities.[1] In addition to recognizing the talents of a young generation, the National Youth Poet Laureate program attempts to create spaces for young people to participate in political and cultural conversations of their time. During their year of holding the title of National Youth Poet Laureate, the poet attends events across the country doing readings and advocating for young people to participate in the expression of themselves and their generation through literature and poetry.

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