Denver seeks inaugural Youth Poet Laureate

Photo: Diego Florez
Diego Florez, 18, was a member of the 2014 Minor Disturbance slam team.

Denver is seeking applications for its first ever Youth Poet Laureate, announced the state's arts agency on Wednesday.

Colorado Creative Industries and several literary partners are looking for poets and spoken word artists aged between 14 and 20 from the Denver Metro area to apply for the position.

"The Youth Poet Laureate engages one youth to represent the metro area on that level and speak as a voice for youth in a professional setting," said Ken Arkind, director of the youth slam poetry organization Minor Disturbance.

Arkind said he has been working on making the Youth Poet Laureate position a reality for three years. Other cities, like New York, already have similar programs.

The year-long title comes with several responsibilities. These include reading poems at official ceremonies and schools as well as generally promoting literacy. Arkind said he expects the Youth Poet Laureate to engage in youth-oriented civic issues, such as education reform.

"A laureate position is not just an award," Arkind said. "You're working for the people. The goal is to turn out future leaders."

Along with the title of Denver Youth Poet Laureate, the winning poet will also receive a book deal from Penmanship Books and a $2,500 scholarship.

Applications are open through Feb. 20. A panel of judges, including two Denver youth, will select the inaugural Denver Youth Poet Laureate on Mar. 20 from five finalists at the Althea Center in Denver.