Houston’s 2020 Youth Poet Laureate
Madison Petaway is a junior at Westbury High School and serves as Houston’s current Youth Poet Laureate. Her work grapples with the complexities surrounding mental illness and education, while celebrating and advocating for youth empowerment. She is a member of the 2019 Meta-Four Houston Youth Poetry Slam Team and has performed her work on local and national stages.
About Houston’s Youth Poet Laureate Program
The Houston Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Writers in the Schools and the Houston Public Library with support from Urban Word NYC, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, and PEN Center USA. The Houston Youth Poet Laureate Program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, human relations, diversity, and education across Houston.
Meet Houston’s Past Youth Poet Laureates
Jackson Neal is a freshman at the University of Houston and a three-time member of Houston’s premier youth poetry slam team, Meta-Four Houston. He is the 2018 Space City Grand Slam Champion, a 2018 National YoungArts Foundation Winner in Writing and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts nominee. His writing and videos have been featured in the Houston Chronicle. A proud member of Clutch City, Jackson makes it a point to rep H-Town wherever he goes.
Listen to Jackson’s podcast, “Myth City,” a five part seires that asks writers and storytellers to conjure the ”mythologies” that inform their work and life in Houston.
Myth City Podcast
Rukmini Kalamangalam is a page and performance poet from Houston, Texas. She is a graduate of Carnegie Vanguard High School and a current freshman at Emory University. In 2018, she was named Youth Poet Laureate of the Southwest and a National Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador as well as Houston Youth Poet Laureate. Her poem, “After Harvey,” was set to music by the Houston Grand Opera. She has been published by the Houston Chronicle, ABC 13 Visions, and Polyphony Lit , with forthcoming work in Blue Marble Review and Lue’s Monthly Newsletter. She has been recognized by the Harris County Department of Education and nationally by Scholastic Writing Awards.
Fareena Arefeen served as Houston’s second Youth Poet Laureate. A graduate of The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Fareena is currently pursuing her degree at University of Texas Austin.
Andre White was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts as a creative writing major. In 2016, he was inaugurated as the first Houston Youth Poet Laureate, where he was selected as one of five finalists to compete for the position of National Youth Poet Laureate. He is currently pursuing a degree in dramatic writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.