Teen spoken word artist Ariana Lee is Houston’s new Youth Poet Laureate

Ariana Lee / Photo courtesy of aripurplecrayon.com

Selected through a citywide application process, Ariana Lee was recently named 2022-2023 Houston Youth Poet Laureate

The Houston-area high school senior is a member of Meta-Four Houston, the city’s official youth slam poetry team, and the winner of a National YoungArts Foundation 2023 Writing Award for Spoken Word.

Lee’s poetry has been published in Defunkt Magazine (“Homeward Bound”) and featured by One Breath Partnership (“Through the Eye”). She wrote and performed “Stars of Space City” in honor of the 2022 Word Series Champions Houston Astros:

“I’m H-Town born and raised and am so proud to represent this community,” wrote Lee in a social media post. “I’m honored to be receiving the torch from 2022 HYPL Avalon and to be holding this position after so many talented poets.”

Succeeding Avalon Hogans, Lee is the 7th teen to serve as Houston Youth Poet Laureate, which is a joint initiative of Writers in the Schools, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Houston Public Library. The program aims to identity young writers to serve as leaders and cultural ambassadors through poetry, performance, and civic and community engagement.

Established in 2016, Houston’s youth poet laureate program is among the long-running in Texas, where Austin and Dallas recently inaugurated youth poet laureate positions.

There are over 60 youth poet laureate programs in the U.S., 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 Alyssa Gaines currently serving in that role.

The city is currently searching for its next Houston Poet Laureate – the adult counterpart position, now in its 10th year – with applications due by January 29 and a new laureate to be announced in April.

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