Philadelphia Poet Laureate

The City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate program has moved under the auspices of the Free Library of Philadelphia's new Center for Public Life.

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.

Raquel Salas Rivera: 2018-2019 Philadelphia Poet Laureate

Raquel Salas Rivera is a queer Puerto Rican poet and translator who lives in Philadelphia. Their work has appeared in journals such as the Revista del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Apiary, Apogee, BOAAT, and the Boston Review. They are the author of Caneca de anhelos turbios (Editora Educación Emergente) and tierra intermitente (Ediciones Alayubia). Their third full-length book lo terciario/the tertiary is forthcoming in 2018 from Timeless, Infinite Light. Currently, they are Co-Editor of The Wanderer, and Co-Editor of Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rican poets published by Anomalous Press, of which 100% of sales will be donated directly to Taller Salud to assist Puerto Rico in recovering from Hurricane Maria. Alongside their partner, they have raised money and organized relief efforts for Puerto Rican LGBQTIA evacuees, while continuing to build strong ties between Philadelphia and Puerto Rico.

Raquel Salas Rivera es una poeta y traductora cuir y puertorriqueña que vive en Filadelfia. Sus poemas han aparecido en revistas tales como la Revista del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Apiary, Apogee, BOAAT, y el Boston Review. Es la autora de Caneca de anhelos turbios (Editora Educación Emergente) y tierra intermitente (Ediciones Alayubia). Timeless, Infinite Light publicará su tercer libro, lo terciario/the tertiary, en el 2018. En la actualidad, es co-editora para The Wanderer y co-editora de Puerto Rico en mi corazón, una colección bilingüe de volantes de poetas puertorriqueños contemporáneos, del cual el 100% de las ventas serán donadas de manera directa a Taller Salud para asistir la recuperación de Puerto Rico luego del paso del huracán Marí a. Junto a su pareja, organizó un recogido de fondos y un programa de alivio para evacuados LGBQTIA y continúa fortaleciendo los lazos entre Filadelfia y Puerto Rico.

Wes Matthews: 2018-2019 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate

Wes Matthews was born in Detroit and began writing poetry at age 10. He is a two-time Brave New Voices competitor, a 2016 TEDx speaker, and winner of the 2018 Philly Slam League All-Star Poetry Slam. His work can be found in Detroit Free Press, Eunoia Review, Dreginald Magazine, and more. In his role as Youth Poet Laureate, he will promote poetry as a means of storytelling and social change. He will be able to showcase his exceptional work and promote poetry, literacy, and arts education through community events and visits to Philadelphia schools and libraries across the city.


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