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.
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.