Youth Poet Laureate Program

Ramya Ramana, Winner of NYC Votes Youth Poet Laureate 2014 Contest, performs at the New York City Inauguration of Mayor de Blasio.

The Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) Youth Poet Laureate Program will provide a platform that promotes youth voice, civic engagement, political literacy and community building. Through this endeavor, we aim to push the literary arts and poetry aesthetic to include young people's voices, ideas, beliefs and their values that are significantly under-represented and marginalized. 

In 2008, the award-winning literary arts organization, Urban Word, launched the nation’s first- ever Youth Poet Laureate program, in partnership with the NYC Voters Assistance Commission and the NYC Mayors Office. Since then, Urban Word has honored 5 Youth Poet Laureates in New York City, each having released their own debut collections of poetry from Penmanship Books. Furthermore, this program situates youth voices in spaces of power and governance as seen most recently when the NYC Youth Poet Laureate performed at Bill de Blasio’s Mayoral Inauguration (see video). 

Urban Word has successfully launched Youth Poet Laureate programs in Los Angeles, Oakland, Nashville, Baltimore, Oklahoma, South Florida, Atlanta, Hampton Roads (VA), among others. 


SAYS recently received a prestigious national award that will allow us to launch a Youth Poet Laureate right here in the State Capital: Sacramento! 

In close partnership with Urban Word, Youth Speaks, Inc. and local city agencies and schools we can move youth voices into the center of civic engagement. 

The personal, the artistic, and the community become equal partners in the success stories of our young people. It is the success of our youth that we honor as authentic change in a city’s evolving cultural milieu (as opposed to the negative media-influenced portrayals of our youth), and we believe this success will be part of the tapestry of Sacramento's brilliance. In New York City alone, this program has allowed young poets access to City Hall, City Council meetings, and high levels of press including the NY Times, Democracy Now, Daily News, Al Jazeera, and numerous city-sponsored events. 

Sacramento Youth Poet Laureate Application

The Sacramento Area Youth Speaks Youth Poet Laureate program is an open contest for young people in the Sacramento region ages 14-19. The Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify youth writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, human relations, diversity and education across Sacramento. Will you be the first ever Sacramento Youth Poet Laureate? Fill out the below application to officially enter the contest. Application deadline is on February 28th, 2018 at 11:59pm. For more information please email:

Please fill out each question to the best of your ability.    *Required

Name *
Date of Birth
Date of Birth
What Do You Consider Yourself?
What is it like being a young person growing up in Sacramento? Speak to your existence as a young person in the State Capital.
How did you hear about the Sacramento Youth Poet Laureate contest?