New Youth Poet Laureate Named in Philadelphia

jones  by ELIZABETH ROBERTSON Staff Photographer philly com

From the Mayors Office

Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Helen Haynes, Chief Cultural Officer, and Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock, announced David Jones as the City’s third Youth Poet Laureate during a ceremony at City Hall. Mr. Jones’ term will begin immediately and run through May 2016.

“The City recognizes the impact that poetry can have on the positive development of young people. Poetry can foster a life-long love of reading, make our students better writers and improve their ability to find deeper meaning and think critically,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “It is important that we get our children interested in art and culture at an early age, and the youth poet laureate can play an important inspirational role in reaching that goal.”

The role of Youth Poet Laureate was established by Mayor Nutter in 2013 under the direction of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) to complement the City’s Poet Laureate program, and to give a young person an opportunity to develop and showcase his or her talents in poetry with the guidance of an experienced poet.

After a nomination process, the Poet Laureate Governing Committee selected three finalists: David Jones (West Philadelphia High School), Jada Elder-Wilkerson (Girls’ High School of Philadelphia) and Shirmina Smith (Academy at Palumbo). The members of the Poet Laureate Governing Committee and Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock worked together to make the final selection.

The Youth Poet Laureate will be mentored by Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock, as well as his successor, whose term will start in January 2016. In his newly appointed position, Mr. Jones said he hopes to receive guidance not just on the structure of his poetry, but how to further incorporate life experiences into his work. He will encourage his peers to react to the local, regional and national events that affect the city’s youth using poetry.

“We were pleased to see the caliber of talent displayed by the applicants for the position and look forward to helping David grow as a poet while inspiring his fellow youth,” stated Helen Haynes. “As the City’s first male Youth Poet Laureate, we are excited for the new perspective – and much needed voice – that he will bring to the position. We hope that Jada and Sabrina will continue to be part of the City’s efforts to increase the visibility of poetry in the city”

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