Long Beach to Announce Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate and Poet Ambassadors
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Long Beach, CA – Long Beach will announce its inaugural Youth Poet Laureate and Poet Ambassadors at a culminating evening ceremony of poetry and community taking place Thursday, June 1, at 6 p.m. The Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) program brings Long Beach youth the opportunity to enact positive change in their communities through activism and art and is sponsored by the Long Beach Public Library (LBPL), in partnership with the Arts Council for Long Beach and supported by Urban Word NYC. Community members are invited to share their support for these talented individuals by attending the ceremony at Green Pines Creative (129 W. 5th St.).

"I proposed the creation of this great program during my time as a councilmember to embrace and nurture the artistic talents of our youth," said Mayor Rex Richardson. "Through this program, we provide a platform and support to inspire and ignite positive social interactions through the transformative power of art."

The evening ceremony will include featured speakers and live poetry readings by each of the 10 finalists, followed by the live announcement of the top Youth Poet Laureate and four Poet Ambassadors.

Altogether, the YPL Cohort will engage Long Beach youth in literary-arts programming over the next year and will be provided with mentorship and resources needed to bring the community projects and vision of Long Beach's future to life. At the completion of the program in April 2024, the YPL Cohort will have created a citywide literary initiative and have made personal connections with organizations and individual partners throughout the city. In addition, the selected Poet Laureate will receive a $1,500 scholarship and the Poet Ambassadors will each receive a $500 scholarship.

The 10 finalists include:
  • Claire Beeli, 16, Claire Beeli's work is forthcoming in Block Party Magazine, Polyphony Lit and Chinchilla Lit, among others, and has been recognized by institutions like the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and the New York Times Learning Network.
  • Stephanie Bou-Assi, 14, Stephanie Bou-Assi is a first-generation, Middle Eastern (Lebanese) young woman who uses writing as a medium to express feelings and emotions. She believes having a growth mindset is what causes improvement and responsibility and strives to embody that in her work.
  • Helena Donato-Sapp, 13, Helena Lourdes Donato-Sapp is an author, speaker, artist and activist. She has been published in books, peer-reviewed journals, magazines, exhibited art in museums, has spoken to audiences nationwide and has received national recognition in various components.
  • Remynyse Gilliam, 16, Remynyse Gilliam is an artist who incorporates many ideas into one theme. Her subject matter tends to be influenced by her emotions and her style changes from work to work. In addition to writing, her other creative strengths include painting, sketching and fashion design.
  • Matilda Iem, 18, Matilda Iem is a first-generation Cambodian American student. Since artistic endeavors are fundamental to her character, she seeks to instill the same appreciation for the emotional utility of literature in her peers. Through her poetry, she seeks to encourage readers and writers alike to express themselves and pick themselves up after a fall.
  • Kieran Lundy, 13, Kieran Lundy is a seventh grader at Hughes Middle School.  His art has been featured in the Long Beach Press Telegram and he has received mentorship from two former English teachers. Aside from spending his time writing, Kieran plays American Football for two separate teams, thoroughly enjoys snowboarding and loves to travel.        
  • Janeymi Ramirez, 16, Janeymi Ramirez is currently a junior at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science and has a growing interest in artistic forms like poetry. She enjoys other mediums such as music and visual art and finds ways to incorporate artistic expression into her everyday life, be it through volunteering, doodling or creating what she calls "little poems" in the margins of her notebooks.  
  • Ajala Sen, 14, Ajala Sen is a 14-year-old musician, writer and student. The poems she writes represents who she is, how she has changed and who she wants to become. Her dream is to spread her stories, ideas and experiences through poetry into the world and have it influence others.
  • Ariel Trent, 15, Ariel Trent is a 15-year-old poet with a dream of writing her own book. She was born in Brookhaven, NY, has lived in Seattle, WA, and has finally found her home in Long Beach, CA.
  • Sofia Uribe, 15, Sofia Uribe is a sophomore at Sato Academy of Mathematics and Science. She plans to pursue environmental science and creative writing and adores reading novels, writing short stories, creating art, surfing with friends and singing opera.    

Earlier this year, youth ages 13 to 18 were invited to self-nominate by submitting an application along with Curriculum Vitae noting their civic and social engagement experience and sharing a portfolio of five poems. Submissions were then judged by a panel of local working poets and the 10 finalists were selected in March.

More on The Californer
The national YPL program began in New York in 2008 and has expanded to more than 70 communities across the nation. This is the first year of the YPL program in Long Beach. More information about the program is available on the LBPL website.

About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 470,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health and Human Services; Parks, Recreation and Marine; Development Services; Public Works and more. The City also has a highly respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, 12 libraries, five golf courses, 169 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths and a Bike Share program.

For more information about the City of Long Beach, visit longbeach.gov/. Follow us on social to keep up with the latest news: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

About Long Beach Public Library
Long Beach Public Library, founded in 1896, serves a diverse urban city of close to half a million people. The Long Beach Public Library system includes Main Library and eleven neighborhood libraries and a vibrant online presence. In summer of 2017, the Long Beach Public Library was awarded the National Medal for Library and Museum Services in recognition of successful community-collaborations, innovative STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and literacy-focused programs to the residents of Long Beach. With an emphasis on providing free and equal access to information and support for learning for a lifetime, the Library offers books, media, databases, Internet access, Family Learning Centers, makerspaces, and a variety of events ranging from story times to cultural programs.

More on The Californer
For more information, visit longbeach.gov/library, "Like" the Long Beach Public Library on Facebook, and follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

About Arts Council for Long Beach
Arts Council for Long Beach is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that promotes, advocates for and helps fund the arts. Our mission is to foster creativity and culture, enliven communities and enable a thriving creative economy. For more information visit artslb.org.

Filed Under: Government, City

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