For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


The new Youth Poet Laureate has just been announced, and applications for the city’s next Poet Laureate are now open

PHILADELPHIA, September 7, 2017—The Free Library of Philadelphia is pleased to announce the City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate program will move under the auspices of the Library’s new Center for Public Life. Established in 2012 and nurtured for five years under the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy, the program will add to the Library’s robust literary programs and offerings.

The Poet Laureate is a civic position that recognizes an exceptional poet who also demonstrates a commitment to the power of poetry to engage and inspire people throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. In addition to the two-year Poet Laureate position, the program also supports a new Youth Poet Laureate each year—an honor that comes with a $1,000 educational scholarship. The Poet Laureate mentors the Youth Poet Laureate, who represents the voice of Philadelphia’s young poets. Both poets engage with Philadelphia citizens through readings, events, and a special project of their choosing.

On Thursday, September 7, the Library held a press conference at the Parkway Central Library to officially announce the Poet Laureate program’s new home at the Free Library. Free Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon was joined at the press conference by Mayor Jim Kenney, the city’s Deputy Managing Director for Community and Culture Dave Wilson, and current Philadelphia Poet Laureate Yolanda Wisher. This occasion served to open the application process for the next Philadelphia Poet Laureate, whose tenure will begin in January 2018. Applications—which can be found at—are due October 13, 2017.

At the press conference, the Library also announced the 2017–2018 Youth Poet Laureate—Husnaa Hashim, a senior at Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus, who read from her original poetry. In her role as Youth Poet Laureate, she will promote poetry as a means of storytelling and social change. She will be able to showcase her exceptional work and promote poetry, literacy, and arts education through community events and visits to Philadelphia schools and libraries across the city. 

The Free Library has had a longstanding commitment to celebrating poetry, most notably through its Monday Poets Reading Series, which has welcomed budding poets to the Library for more than 20 years. “In bringing the Poet Laureate program to the Free Library, the city deepens its commitment to poetry as a powerful, essential art form,” said Siobhan A. Reardon.  “We are thrilled to continue this beloved program in service of the Library’s mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity.” 

The next Poet Laureate will be chosen by the Poet Laureate Governing Committee, which is comprised of  poets, educators, and arts-organization professionals:  committee chair Beth Feldman Brandt, Executive Director of the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation that supports arts and cultural programs in Philadelphia; current Philadelphia Poet Laureate Yolanda Wisher; poet and educator Trapeta Mayson; Dr. Cathy Cohen, Education Director of ArtWell; Al Filreis, Faculty Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House; Greg Corbin, Founder and Executive Director of Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement; Frank Sherlock, Philadelphia Poet Laureate Emeritus; Autumn McClintock, Strategy Coordinator at the Free Library; and Andrew Nurkin, Deputy Director for Enrichment and Civic Engagement at the Free Library

The Poet Laureate application process is now open. Poets who are residents of Philadelphia, and who are able to demonstrate both a significant body of work and a record of commitment to community service, are eligible to apply. Using the online application form, applicants may submit four poems (up to ten pages total), a list of publications, a résumé, an artistic statement, and three references. Applicants may also submit up to three links to videos of public readings or performances. Applications must be completed and submitted online.

For more information on the Poet Laureate program, visit

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and the Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi, including neighborhood Hotspots; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at the Rosenbach. With more than 6 million in-person visits and millions more online annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850