Urbstetiks announced Jelani Penny-Johnson, Metro Academic and Classical high school junior, the 2023 St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate. Additionally, Parkway North senior Tyrelle H.C. will serve as their Youth Poet in Residence for the summer of 2023. Both youth poets begin their duties this month with their first public reading at UrbArts Gallery in Old North St. Louis, the headquarters for Urbstetiks. Their poetry reading takes place during an Urbstetiks student art exhibition at 6:00 pm on May 5th. The art exhibition is free and open to the public.
Started in 2016, the St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate program is a joint effort of Urban Word NYC and Urbstetiks. The 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 St. Louis. Previous St. Louis Youth Poets Laureate include Bisa Adero, Zach Lesmeister, Camryn Howe, Sarah Abbas, Grace Ruo, Hobie Wolff, and Lauren Barton.