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. The Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate Program is administered by the Free Library of Philadelphia in collaboration with Urban Word NYC.
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.
2021-2022 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate
Andre'a Rhoads is a junior at Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls and a resident of North Philadelphia. She developed her love of writing at Gesu Elementary School where an advanced writing class taught her that we can learn about ourselves by reading the words of others. Encountering the work of Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and the poets of the Harlem Renaissance sparked her passion for poetry. Andre'a is also active in her community through volunteering with Cradles to Crayons and as a youth mentor for both her church and her middle school. She credits her gift for self-expression to her parents, the community that has nurtured her, and her faith: "My parents Tracy and Andre Rhoads always taught me to express myself unapologetically, and to never let obstacles stand in my way. I come from a loving community and family. When my back is against the wall, I have a support system who will come to my rescue. My peers and family members give me hope that dreams are real, and that anything is possible. My faith in God also uplifts me."
For more information, including requests for appearances by the Philadelphia Poet Laureate or Youth Poet Laureate, contact email@example.com. Please note that we may not be able to attend all requests out of respect for the time of the two poets.