The City of Philadelphia in conjunction with the Free Library administered the title of Youth Poet Laureate to Telicia Darius in September 2022. This civic position recognizes an exceptional poet who also demonstrates a commitment to the power of poetry to engage and inspire people throughout Philadelphia's neighborhoods. The City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate program is organized by the Free Library of Philadelphia and guided by a governing committee composed of poets, educators, and arts-organization professionals from around the city. As Youth Poet Laureate, Darius is a city-wide ambassador for poetry through hosting readings, events, and embarking on a special project of her choosing.
Darius’ body of work reflects her interest in the intersection of body, psychology, and racial politics. On February 21, Darius hosted a Youth Poet Laureate Reading and Teen Poetry Workshop at Parkway Central Library. Additionally, Darius wrote an original poem commissioned by the Free Library's Field Teen Center in celebration of Black History Month:
"La femme noir"
by Telicia Darius
See here's the thing about the black woman
Her hands are new
Yes she's been around for generations
But they work like new
Mending the broken
Like the tattered and unwoven
Providing for all once she's spoken
She gives life in any color
She's the original provider
Even against her own who grow to see her conditionally
She has grown foreign in her own community
Her love beaten and battered
Diluted and shattered
Her essence was taken out of her hands
But here's my favorite thing about the black woman
She knows when to command
We shouldn't be passed down as replaceable
Value us more
Because god forbid we value ourselves too
Then it's a riot
It's "what about them?"
"What about us"
We matter too
There is no longer a need for a prayer
She knows where she stands
She has utilized being foreign in her own land
The love of a black woman can no longer be folded
She is as still as air
And finally as it should be, she's in her command
Telicia Darius is a senior at Hardy Williams Mastery Charter School in a dual enrollment program at Community College of Philadelphia. Telicia has participated in the Young Writer's Workshop at Bard College and the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program. Telicia writes and performs in both English and French and is a member of the Hardy Williams Philly Slam League team.