About Houston’s Youth Poet Laureate Program

The Houston Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Writers in the Schools, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and 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.

Applications for the 2023 Houston Youth Poet Laureate are open! All applications are due August 31st, 2022 at 11:59pm and must be submitted online through the following application link:
Apply Here


Meet Houston’s Past Youth Poet Laureates 

Avalon Hogans, HYPL 2022

Avalon Hogans Houston Youth Poet Laureate, Avalon Hogans is a senior at the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts majoring in Creative Writing.  Hogans has been recognized by Mayor Sylvester Turner, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) Director Necole Irvin, and Texas Representative Sylvia Garcia for her passion for social activism and civil rights.  Hogans uses her writing to create change through performing at all levels from National Period Day Rally to local parks for her high school.

Madison Petaway, HYPL 2020, 2021

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.

Madison in the news:

Changing Houston One Poem at a Time – Houston Public Media

Jackson Neal, HYPL 2019

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, HYPL 2018

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, HYPL 2017

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.

Andrew White, HYPL 2016

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. 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.