The Free Library of Philadelphia is pleased to announce the 2022–23 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate: Telicia Darius, a senior at Hardy Williams Mastery Charter School in a dual enrollment program at the Community College of Philadelphia! She was selected from a competitive pool of applicants by the Poet Laureate Governing Committee, and will succeed Andre’a Rhoads, who served as the 2021–22 Youth Poet Laureate.
“Poetry is the writer's ink and the laureate is the platform, giving the inaudible text a chance to speak,” Telicia said.
Darius has participated in the Young Writer's Workshop at Bard College and the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program. She writes and performs in both English and French and is a member of the Hardy Williams Philly Slam League team. She wrote her first poem when she was seven years old for an assignment and never stopped writing after that.
During her laureate year, Darius will be an ambassador for poetry around the city through readings and workshops.
“In Telecia's work, we see a young writer thinking through body and racial politics with vision and agency. In an age in which our attentions are fleeting, Telicia's gaze remains steadily affixed to the cultural and civil turmoils that shape our times. Her work reaches across every divide to shake those who sleep awake and urge all of us to co-create a different future. Ready and sure, her voice is a clarion call to Philadelphia and the American shores beyond,” said Airea D. Matthews, 2022-2023 Philadelphia Poet Laureate.
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.