Austin Youth Poet Laureate



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


    • Fill out an application. (Applications will open on July 1, 2021 at 8:00am. All applications must be submitted online by Friday, August 27, 2021, at 11:59pm.)
    • Submit the following materials: 
      • 5 original poems (maximum total page count of 20 pages)
      • A resume, CV, or brag sheet detailing applicant’s accomplishments, community service, after-school program participation, awards, or anything else applicant wishes to highlight about themselves
      • Optional multimedia supplement 


Potential applicants are invited to a workshop that 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!

  • JUNE 2021: YPL Summer Applications Workshops (Session I)
    • Thursday, June 10 / Workshop 1: The Poems
    •  Thursdays, June 17 / Workshop 2: The Brag Sheet
    • Thursdays, June 24 / Workshop 3: You & Austin, TX
  • JULY  2021: YPL Summer Applications Workshops (Session II)
    • Thursday, July 15 / Workshop 1: The Poems
    • Thursday, July 22 / Workshop 2: The Brag Sheet
    • Thursday, July 29 / Workshop 3: You & Austin, TX

About the Instructors

Bianca Alyssa Pérez (she/her) was born and raised in Mission, Texas – a small southern town bordering Mexico. She is currently an MFA Poetry candidate at Texas State University. Her poems have been published in The New York QuarterlyRe-side Magazine, Magma Poetry UK, ReclamationATX, Psst! Press’ The Sappho Diaries, and East French Press. Forthcoming in The Ice Colony Anthology. She is also the co-host of a horror podcast with writer Stephanie Grossman. Her poetry centers on her Latin culture, spirituality, family, and womanhood.



Steven Espada Dawson (he/him) is a writer from East Los Angeles, currently working out of Austin. The son of a Mexican immigrant, he holds an MFA in poetry from Purdue University. He has served as poetry editor for Sycamore Review and Copper Nickel. Winner of the Barriss and Iola Mills Award and the Kneale Award, his poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets 2020, Colorado Review, Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, Hobart, Kenyon Review Online, Split Lip Magazine, and Waxwing, among other journals.


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