The Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County is awarded to an artist between 13-19 years old who is passionate about their art and their communities. Applications are closed, and the new Laureate and Ambassadors are below.
Meet the Youth Poet Laureate (2022-2023)
Rho Bloom-Wang is a 16-year-old student, writer, and activist. As an editor for Starry False Lily and Plaid Magazine, they believe literary art is essential for both individual growth and interpersonal change. Devoted to issues of social and environmental justice, Rho has collaborated on projects that address issues of air quality, criminal justice, and gender-based inequities in athletics. They recently co-organized a national event highlighting transgender art, writing, and existence as a form of resistance to anti-trans legislation. Rho is a winner of the Oakland Sidewalk Poetry Contest and the recipient of a Gold Medal from the Alliance for Art and Writing. You can find their work in The Lumiere Review, Qommunity’s Revive, Saturday Light Brigade, and elsewhere. You may also find them immersed in mountains, books, and Mandarin.
Read Rho’s poem “When I Grow Up“
Meet the Youth Poet Ambassadors (2022-2023)
Audrey Alling is a senior at Hampton High School. She has always found refuge in literature and art, but in more recent years she has identified and honed her interest for poetry. Spoken-word, specifically, has made a considerable impact on her life, inspiring her to expand her involvement in theater and also found a club—alongside her friend and classmate Aja—dedicated to providing students with a safe space to showcase art of all forms for the community. Aside from writing, Audrey partakes in other forms of art, such as ceramics and mixed media. She finds herself endlessly grateful for the opportunity to bring ideas to life through this outlet of expression. Audrey ardently anticipates the remainder of this year as a Youth Poet Ambassador of Allegheny County and all the opportunities awaiting her to share to her work!
Read Audrey’s poem “The Comfort of Loss”
Jade Davis is not only a poet, but an activist. They fight to protect the world against climate change, environmental racism, homophobia, and transphobia. Currently, Davis participates in all their volunteer activities from Bridgeville Pennsylvania. They are an award winning poet, with several accolades such as, an MLK jr. second place poetry award, an honorable mention in the Ralph Munn competition, and a silver mentalin the style of performed poetry with the NAACP ACT-SO Program. Besides poetry, Davis enjoys helping out a local historic landmark Woodville, and leading there LGBTQIA+ club Vibrant Shades.
Read Jade’s poem “August Poem”
Aja Lynn is 17 and is a senior at Hampton High School. She has always loved writing and has realized spoken-word poetry as her preferred way to navigate her thoughts. Whether it’s competing in arts competitions or starting “Showcase Club” (a space for all artists to share their work) with her friend Audrey, you can find Aja engaging with poetry. With this being her second year as a part of the Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County program, Aja is excited to participate in more readings, develop her writing, and learn from more fellow poets!
Read Aja’s poem “With Only a Word”
Emily Tea is a student at Winchester Thurston High School. She has always loved writing, but recently discovered a love for poetry. She is currently focusing on not pressuring herself to create amazing work every time. She’s learned that writing takes time and it’s not always going to be perfect, but once you realize that, you begin to write wonderful pieces.
Read Emily’s poem “Yellow”
The Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County 2022-2023 receives:
- a prize of $500
- artistic support and paid performance opportunities during one-year term (2022-2023)
- publication in the National Youth Poet Laureate anthology
- entry into the National Youth Poet Laureate competition
To be eligible for the award, you must:
- be a resident of Allegheny County during academic year 2022-2023
- be 13-19 years old by September 2022
- demonstrate community involvement
- demonstrate engagement with social justice causes
Meet the Panel of Judges
Nairobi is a singer-songwriter, rapper, actress, poet, artist, director, teaching artist, visual artist, and activist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a member of 1Hood Media, where she is blessed to use her art and empower others to use their voices, as she strongly represents her brand of “Individuality, Divinity, and Purpose.” The 2016 winner of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, Nairobi received her BFA in Acting from Point Park University. She has been featured in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, WAMO, the Pittsburgh Courier, and NPR for her art and activism.
Shaista Rahim is the Lead Counselor of Study Buddy at Hello Neighbor and a recent undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Architecture with a Creative Writing minor. She was born in Afghanistan and immigrated to the United States in 2019. Shaista speaks four languages, including English, Persian, Pashto, Turkish, and she is learning Spanish. In her free time, Shaista likes to read, play cello, and cook.
Alayna Powell is a poet who recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. She will be attending the University of Alabama’s MFA program in fall 2022. Her work is featured in Rogue Agent Journal, Zocalo Public Square, and Tinderbox.
Meet our Youth Poet Laureate Alumni
Youth Poet Laureate in the Press
- Trib Live, “Poetry pop-up event to generate buzz for 1st Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books“
- Pitt Wire, “Ones to Watch: Danielle Obisie-Orlu“
- Bridges & Books Podcast, “EPISODE 14: Roseanne A. Brown & Fandom Culture” ft. Danielle Obisie-Orlu
- The Pitt News, “Danielle Obisie-Orlu champions love, empathy as county youth poet laureate“NEXTpittsburgh, “Meet Danielle Obisie-Orlu, the new Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County“
- Kidsburgh, “10 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh”
- Bridges & Books Podcast, “EPISODE 1: Rachael Lippincott, Vincent Folkes, & Joyful Queer Rep in YA“
- Sampsonia Way Magazine, “Why We Write: Inside the Creative Process with the Poet Laureates for Allegheny County“
- Pittsburgh Current, “City Of Asylum Names Four Poets Laureate For Allegheny County“
- Kidsburgh, “5 questions for Vincent Folkes, Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County — and a poem“
- WESA, “City of Asylum launches Poet Laureate Program“
- NEXTpittsburgh, “All Pittsburghers are Poets: City of Asylum creates Poet Laureate posts, open to all Allegheny County residents“