Philadelphia Poet Laureate

The City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate program is managed by the Free Library's Division of Cultural and Civic Engagement, guided by a governing committee comprised of poets, educators, and arts-organization professionals from around the city.

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. 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.

Youth Poet Laureate Application Now Open!

Are you Philadelphia's next Youth Poet Laureate? Applications for the 2021-2022 Youth Poet Laureate are due on May 21, 2021. For complete information and to apply, click here.

The Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate program gives one exceptional young poet a platform for creative expression and civic engagement through poetry. The Youth Poet Laureate will serve a term from July 2021 through June 2022 and will be:

  • Given the opportunity to serve as a leader and champion of Philadelphia's youth poetry community
  • Mentored by Philadelphia Poet Laureate Trapeta Mayson and the 2022-2023 Poet Laureate (to be selected in December 2021)
  • Called on to participate in community projects and events that promote poetry, literacy, arts education, and youth advocacy
  • Receive a $1,000 stipend to further the Youth Poet Laureate's education
  • Eligible to apply for the Regional and National Youth Poet Laureate contests administered by Urban Word NYC.


  • You must be a resident of Philadelphia enrolled in high school at the time of application
  • You may attend a high school outside of Philadelphia or may be homeschooled
  • 2021 graduates are not eligible to apply

The Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate Program is administered by the Free Library of Philadelphia in collaboration with Urban Word NYC.

Trapeta Mayson: 2020-2021 Philadelphia Poet Laureate

Trapeta Mayson reads her poetry widely and works extensively facilitating poetry and creative writing workshops. Her work sheds light on and honors the immigrant experience as well as amplifies the stories of everyday people. She is a recipient of a Pew Fellowship in Literature, a Leeway Transformation Award, a Leeway Art and Change Grant, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grants. Her work was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is a Cave Canem and Callaloo Fellow and an Aspen Words Emerging Writer's Fellow with the Aspen Institute. She is the author of She Was Once Herself and a chapbook, Mocha Melodies. Trapeta has also released two music and poetry projects, SCAT and This Is How We Get Through, in collaboration with internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist, Monnette Sudler. Her other publications include submissions in The American Poetry Review, Epiphany Literary Journal, Aesthetica Magazine, and Margie: The American Journal of Poetry among others.

Trapeta is a native of Liberia who grew up in North Philadelphia and Germantown. She is a member of the Greene Street Artists Cooperative in Germantown. Trapeta is a graduate of Temple University, Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and Villanova University School of Business. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a strong non-profit background, she currently works at a community mental health agency. As a teaching artist, she has worked with hundreds of youth and adults in schools, cultural institutions, correctional facilities, shelters, and numerous other community venues — using poetry to foster creative expression and promote healing. Trapeta is also a member of several local organizations where she partners with others to help mobilize and build community.

Cydney Brown: 2020-2021 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate

Cydney Brown lives in Philadelphia and is currently a junior at Abington Friends School. She grew to love poetry by reading Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, entering (and winning!) her first slam competition when she was in fifth grade. She runs a mentoring program called GOOD (Girls Overcome Obstacles Daily) that pairs middle and high school girls for mentoring focused on building self-esteem. Cydney is also active in the Girl Scouts and teaches tennis to younger students with Legacy Youth Tennis and Education. 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. Cydney wishes to inspire people to stand up for what they believe in and to share her poetry with the world.

For more information, including requests for appearances by the Philadelphia Poet Laureate or Youth Poet Laureate, contact Please note that we may not be able to attend all requests out of respect for the time of the two poets.