Austin Youth Poet Laureate Program

Congratulations to Ireland Griffin, Austin's first Youth Poet Laureate!

Ireland Griffin, 17, is a student at Meridian World School, although much of her work is out in the community. In addition to founding Half Empty Magazine, Ireland devotes a lot of energy to volunteering for political campaigns, doing phone-banking, recruitment, and door-to-door canvassing. In 2020, she was a featured speaker at the Women’s March at the Capitol. Most recently, Ireland has written for Grain of Salt Magazine and the Purple Hydrangea Project, which works to destigmatize mental health. We are so proud to name her as the inaugural Austin Youth Poet Laureate.

Congratulations to the 2021 Austin Youth Poet Laureate finalists:

  • Caroline Boyle, 13 (Lamar Fine Arts Academy)
  • Elijah Kleinman, 18 (The University of Texas at Austin)
  • Keana Saberi, 17 (Westwood High School)
  • Zachary Suri, 16 (LASA High School)
  • Ren Koppel Torres, 17 (Westlake High School)


The Austin Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify and uplift young writers and leaders who are committed to civic & community engagement, poetry & performance, human relations, diversity, social justice and education across Austin.

The Austin Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of the Library Foundation and the National Youth Poet Laureate Program led by Urban Word, with additional support from the Austin Public Library, Creative Learning Initiative, Learn All The Time, and Host Publications.


  • Serve as a representative for youth voice and poetry in Austin
  • Be celebrated with a celebration in the fall and participate in other readings and performances across the city
  • Be published in the National Youth Poet Laureate anthology
  • Be eligible to compete in the regional and national Youth Poet Laureate competitions and all national Youth Poet Laureate programming with other youth across the country
  • Have the opportunity to publish a chapbook through local press Host Publications


Anyone age 13-18 years old living in Austin, TX. As long as your address says you live in Austin, you are eligible to apply. Right now this program is only open to students living within Austin city limits. We hope to expand to surrounding counties in the future.
You don’t need to have any previous experience with performance or poetry in order to apply. We encourage all interested young writers to attend our free Application Workshops (hyperlink). These workshops will walk you through the application process step by step--from drafting and generating poems to compiling a resume. Plus you’ll get to learn from other poets while you craft your own work. These workshops are free and open to all!
We seek applications from young people who are committed to the growth and development of their local communities. By “Civic Engagement,” we mean any regular activity, formally or informally sponsored, whereby the YPL applicant can strengthen and promote the quality of life in his or her community or school. By “Social Justice,” we mean any examples of praxis, commitment to equity and inclusiveness, activism and the fundamental right of youth to be outspoken.nExamples include efforts in political activism, organizing, school participation, and volunteerism, as well as various educational and artistic initiatives. We require the submission of a CV, which is judged and scored, to add value to the mission and goals of this program.
We seek applications from young people who excel in the literary arts, using poetry as a tool not only for self-expression but civic engagement as well. We define literary excellence as any literary work that employs the tools of poetic craft— music, image, metaphor and simile, traditional forms (sonnet, villanelle, ghazal, and so on)—combined with a passionate artistic vision concerned, thematically, with matters of the heart, spirit, and mind; politics; identity; family and relationships; history; love in its many iterations; other art forms; or any aspect of the human experience, often at the intersection of any of the aforementioned, in order to explore and deepen our common humanity. Literary excellence is assessed via the poetry portfolio submission, and also merited in the CV with any history of awards/accolades for writing.
No, this program is entirely free.

Questions? Contact Katherine Lamb at