Interested in joining or nominating someone for the Youth Poetry Council?
Youth Poetry Council
For this project, the Northern Arizona Book Festival will establish a Youth Poetry Council and its flagship Youth Poet Laureate Program. The Youth Poet Laureate will be an ambassador for the literary arts to area youth and help lead the Youth Poetry Council in organizing literary arts programming, conducting workshops, giving readings and performances, hosting Slam events, and conducting outreach with schools, non-profits, and other partners. Together, the Council and Laureate will take the lead in planning both the Young Readers Festival in early April and year-round programming targeting literary arts for young people. Experienced educators and arts administrators will oversee and facilitate the activities of the Laureate and Council and train them in the requisite skills necessary to achieve their goals.
As a new initiative (in 2023) responding to excitement about previous youth involvement in Book Festival events, the project’s aim is to create a forum to empower young people to share their enthusiasm for and knowledge of literature, coordinate programming that is of interest to them, and become more active contributors to their literary communities. The learning outcomes we hope to achieve with the Youth Poet Laureate and Youth Poetry Council are:
Students will collaborate with each other and partners to coordinate literary arts programming. Students will determine the best use of resources for diverse community needs, audiences, and perspectives. The learning outcomes for programming are:
1. Students will appropriately apply new forms and techniques to their creative writing.
2. Students will demonstrate greater fluency in performing their creative works.
3. Students will articulate how cultural identities are represented in the nuances of literary texts.
The first Flagstaff Youth Poet Laureate is Micaela Merryman. We are looking for Youth Poetry Council members aged 14-24 throughout the Northern Arizona region. Both the Youth Laureate and Council Members are expected to commit to one-year terms to ensure continuity of operations, implement programming, build community, and learn new skills. Youth Council meetings will be held online approximately once per month.
Annual Writing Contests:
In October 2023, the Youth Poetry Council of Flagstaff held its first annual writing contest, the “Ghost Story” contest! In October, many young writers submitted their work and here are our winners.
Charlson recently finished the Columbia Publishing Course and is excited to help create great books. She graduated summa cum laude from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her love of theatre has driven her to write several produced plays and she loves comedy even though her writing is more experimental. Charlson’s short stories offer a disjointed and endearing narrative filled with sardonic peculiarities and feminine rage. She is honored and excited to be published by the Youth Poetry Council of Northern Arizona.
Christina Meeks is an anthropology graduate student and prose writer. Her main research interests are anthropology of disability, queer anthropology, and community engagement and advocacy. Her main life goal is to combine anthropology and creative writing to make research accessible and tell stories of people often marginalized by society. As a queer, disabled writer, Christina writes narrative essays and dark, speculative fiction about messed up people who are horrible outside of their disabilities and sexualities.
Youth Poet Laureate, 2022-23
Micaela Merryman is a Native and African-American published poet from Flagstaff, Arizona. She is a book festival board member, founder of Sonder Zine, and host to the Off the Rails reading series.
Micaela will serve as Flagstaff's inaugural Youth Poet Laureate (23). Among the great work she does within the community, she will also lead the Youth Poetry Council this spring. Read some of her poetry here.