In a ceremony on November 17 at Writers in the Schools, Avalon Hogans officially took the helm as Houston’s 2021-2022 Youth Poet Laureate.
Through a citywide application and interview process, the teen writer was selected for the position, which is a joint initiative of Writers in the Schools, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and Houston Public Library.
A senior at Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Hogans is a storyteller, artist, and civil rights activist. She also volunteers as a creative writing teacher for local elementary school students. Her poetry stems from a passion for social justice, and she is “determined to change the world through her talents,” as described in a press release.
Houston’s youth poet laureate program is one of over 50 in the U.S. These programs are supported by Urban Word – the literary organization that also launched the National Youth Poet Laureate program, whose inaugural laureate was Amanda Gorman in 2017, with Alexandra Huỳnh currently serving in that role.
At a time when poetry has been on the rise nationally – with visits to Poets.org up by 30% during the pandemic, a spike in online poetry events, and the popularity of Gorman’s Presidential Inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb” – the art form is also seeing increased interest in Texas. Both Austin and Dallas have launched youth poet laureate programs this year. Dallas has also announced a search for its first adult Dallas Poet Laureate.
In Houston, Avalon Hogans serves as the city’s sixth Youth Poet Laureate. She follows Madison Petaway (2020 – 2021), Jackson Neal (2019), Rukmini Kalamangalam (2018), Fareena Arefeen (2017), and Andrew White (2016).
During her one-year term, Hogans will work with Houston Poet Laureate, Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean, to develop a civic engagement project to serve the community and address a social issue. Other duties include speaking and performing at city events.
Hogans will have the opportunity to apply to become National Youth Poet Laureate and to act as a youth poetry ambassador for the Southwest region. She receives a $1000 scholarship.