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City of Chicago Announces 1st Poet Laureate: avery r. young

Written by on April 24, 2023

The new Chicago Poet Laureate program aims to increase awareness of Chicago’s historic contributions to the literary arts while celebrating and honoring the efforts of Chicago’s working artists.

Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, in partnership with the Chicago Public Library (CPL), the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and the Poetry Foundation, proudly named avery r. young as the inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate. An award-winning poet, educator, composer, performer, and producer, avery r. young’s work spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts and literature. He is co-director of The Floating Museum, a Cave Canem fellow, Leader for a New Chicago 2022 awardee, and performer with his band, de deacon board. With more than two decades as a teaching artist (as spaces such as Young Chicago Authors), he has mentored generations of young poets.

Chicago Poet Laureate avery n. young at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago’s River North neighborhood; April 2023. photo by Patrick L. Pyszka, City of Chicago

Artist and spacemaker Theaster Gates called avery, “one of our greatest living street poets.” As Chicago Poet Laureate, avery r. young will serve a two-year term and be awarded $50,000 for the commissioning of new poems and to create public programming, including programs for youth and students. The Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador for the city’s literary and creative communities.

“From the open mic to lecture halls, from Lollapalooza to the Art Institute, I have been on a journey to figure out all the spaces where language can make room and build. I don’t walk into this appointment by myself, I enter this tenure with a community of social activists, creatives and municipal entities excited about the many ways in which this Poet Laureate appointment can weave poetry into the fabric of this great city,” shared Chicago Poet Laureate avery r. young.

“I understand the history in being the inaugural Poet Laureate, but I also understand the service it will take to lay the groundwork of a legacy and platform for all the Laureates who will follow.”

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avery r. young’s first public appearance as Chicago Poet Laureate takes place, Saturday, April 29, 2023 from 2 – 3pm as part of the Chicago Public Library’s annual National Poetry Month celebration, Poetry Fest at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St). avery will be in conversation with Dr. Eve L. Ewing.

Visit for more information about the event.

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