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Cydney Brown Named 2020-21 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate
PHILADELPHIA, September 15, 2020—The Free Library of Philadelphia is pleased to announce the 2020–21 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate: Cydney Brown, a junior at Abington Friends School and lives in Northeast Philadelphia. She was selected from a competitive pool of applicants by the Poet Laureate Governing Committee, and will succeed Mia Concepcion, who served as the 2019–20 Youth Poet Laureate.
“This has been a dream of mine, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share my poetry and inspire people in my community. After I received the news I jumped for joy and danced around my house,” Brown said.
Brown grew to love poetry by reading poems by Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. She wrote a book of poems entitled “Daydreaming” and is currently working on another. Her poetry explores the topics of love, self-image, and social justice and Brown says she wishes to inspire people to stand up for what they believe in and to share her poetry with the world. Brown is also deeply involved in her community. An active Girl Scout, she runs a mentoring program called Project G.O.O.D. (Girls Overcome Obstacles Daily) that pairs middle and high school girls for mentoring focused on building self-esteem, and teaches tennis to younger students with Legacy Youth Tennis and Education.
“I’m delighted for our new Youth Poet Laureate, Cydney Brown and I’m looking forward to partnering with her to help amplify the voices of young people. Cydney will be a great poetry ambassador for our city—not only is she a talented poet, she is also committed to community service,” said Trapeta B. Mayson, 2020-2021 Philadelphia Poet Laureate.
Brown will have her first reading in a virtual event along with past Youth Poet Laureates with the Kelly Writers House, #VoteThatJawn, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society on September 17 at 7:00 p.m.
The Poet Laureate Governing Committee also named Londyn Edwards, a junior at Science Leadership Academy, as a finalist for the Youth Poet Laureate. Every year the selection process reveals the immense talent of Philadelphia’s young poets, resulting in the challenging choice of picking one laureate. The Free Library congratulates everyone who applied this year for their dedication to writing and to Philadelphia.
“Reading through the applications submitted for the Youth Poet Laureate post, you realize how deeply sustaining poetry is to young people in our city. These young poets express their personal, family and neighborhood joys and struggles with passion, swagger, and vision. We continue to be impressed with the talented and civically minded youth who seek out this role, and we're grateful to their teachers and mentors for preparing them to apply. The Youth Poet Laureate program strives to provide these emerging creative leaders with a citywide platform to inspire expression and action,” said Yolanda Wisher, 2016-2017 Philadelphia Poet Laureate and governing committee co-chair.
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 Wisher, the committee is co-chaired by Autumn McClintock, Strategy Coordinator at the Free Library. Other committee members include Beth Feldman Brandt, Executive Director of the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation; Trapeta B. Mayson, 2020-2021 Philadelphia Poet Laureate; Al Filreis, Faculty Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House; 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; and Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, writer and editor at Thread Makes Blanket Press.
Organizations interested in inviting Brown 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
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