Past Philadelphia Youth Poets Laureate

2021-2022, Andre'a Rhoads

Andre'a Rhoads

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."

2020-2021, Cydney Brown

Cydney Brown

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.

2019-2020, Mia Concepcion

Mia Concepcion

Mia is a senior at the Science Leadership Academy. She was born in raised in South Philadelphia and has been an active part of the city's youth poetry slam scene for several years. She is also the published author of a poetry collection from her sophomore year. In her role as Youth Poet Laureate, she aims to engage young artists across Philadelphia with the creation of a poetry anthology, focusing on identity and social change. Mia wishes to use her voice and platform to change the perception of the arts industry, and establish poetry and arts careers as a serious path for the youth of Philly.

2018-2019, Wes Matthews

Wes Matthews

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 helped promote poetry as a means of storytelling and social change.

2017-2018, Husnaa Hashim

Husnaa Hashim

Husnaa Hashim is a dual-enrolled senior at Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus and the Community College of Philadelphia. Husnaa has competed with the Philly Youth Poetry Movement, performed at various conferences and festivals, and received numerous Scholastic Art and Writing Awards including a National American Voices Medal awarded at Carnegie Hall. Husnaa's work can be found in RookieMag, KidSpirit Online, the Kenyon Young Writers Anthology, the Voices of the East Coast Anthology, and APIARY Magazine's "APIARY 9," among others. She enjoys making flower crowns and spending time with her cat, Maya (Angelou) Luna.