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Mia Concepcion Named 2019-20 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate
PHILADELPHIA, September 4, 2019—The Free Library of Philadelphia is pleased to announce the 2019–20 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate: Mia Concepcion, a senior at Science Leadership Academy. She was selected from a competitive pool of applicants by the Poet Laureate Governing Committee, and will succeed Wes Matthews, who served as the 2018–19 Youth Poet Laureate.
Concepcion has been active in the poetry community since freshman year, when she started taking part in weekly poetry slam competitions. She is also the published author of a poetry collection from her sophomore year. In her role as Youth Poet Laureate, she aims to engage young artists across Philadelphia with the creation of a poetry anthology focusing on identity and social change. Concepcion wishes to use her voice and platform to change the perception of the arts industry, and establish poetry and arts careers as a serious path for the youth of Philly.
“As a Philly born and raised poet, I am incredibly thrilled and honored to serve my city as Youth Poet Laureate,” said Concepcion. “Through this position, I aim to give youth poets even more of a voice and shine light on the issues that Philadelphia youth care deeply about.”
“We continue to be moved by the stories young people tell through their poetry. The Youth Poet Laureate program shines a spotlight on the importance of listening to young voices and connects them to the broader community through the Free Library of Philadelphia and beyond,” explained Beth Feldman Brandt, Executive Director of the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation and co-chair of the Poet Laureate Governing Committee.
The 2019–20 Philadelphia Poet Laureate, Raquel Salas Rivera, noted: “Mia Concepcion’s work delves fearlessly into the painful complexities of existing in more than one world. Her poetry stood out for its willingness to be both confrontational and tender. She has a nuanced understanding of how different parts of Philadelphia come together and deftly navigates race, gender, and sexuality. The projects she has in mind for the city are insightful and I am confident she will bring much to the city during her term.”
The City of Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate program has been stewarded by the Free Library since the fall of 2017. 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 Poet Laureate position, the program also supports a new Youth Poet Laureate each year—an honor that comes with an 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.
The Poet Laureate Governing Committee is comprised of poets, educators, and arts-organization professionals. In addition to co-chairs Brandt and Yolanda Wisher, the 2016 Philadelphia Poet Laureate, committee members include Raquel Salas Rivera, 2018–20 Philadelphia Poet Laureate; Al Filreis, Faculty Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House; Autumn McClintock, Strategy Coordinator at the Free Library; Andrew Nurkin, Deputy Director for Enrichment and Civic Engagement at the Free Library; Kai Davis, poet, performer, teaching artist, poetry editor for Apiary magazine, and organizer/artistic director for The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam; Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, writer and editor at Thread Makes Blanket Press; and Jacob Winterstein, poet, performer, teaching artist, and host of The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam.
Organizations interested in inviting Concepcion to read should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit freelibrary.org/poetlaureate.
Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850