Mississauga looking for its next Youth Poet Laureate

Until March 18, the City of Mississauga is calling for submissions as its second Youth Poet Laureate. The Youth Poet Laureate serves as a literary ambassador for city youth and aims to elevate the status of poetry, literary arts and young writers within their communities.

The new Youth Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term beginning in April 2018 and ending in March 2020. The honorary position recognizes a young poet who writes excellent poetry or spoken word and has written on themes that are relevant to the citizens of Mississauga. The key objectives of the position are to promote poetry and literary arts to young people, to raise the profile of young writers in the city and to create an artistic legacy through public readings and interactions.

The Youth Poet Laureate also has numerous responsibilities including the performance of poetry readings in person at various functions and to assist in organizing events or projects to promote poetry. As well, the Laureate will receive a $3,000 honorarium plus funding of $1,000 to support the implementation of a Youth Poet Laureate event or project.

Rebecca Zseder, age 18, is the current and inaugural Youth Poet Laureate, named in April 2016.

“Rebecca’s role with engaging and empowering youth through poetry and the literary arts reflects the important leadership role that youth will play in shaping Mississauga’s cultural future,” said Paul Damaso, city culture division director.

Zseder’s passion for poetry stems from her enthusiasm for public speaking, which won her a regional title in 2012. As early as Grade 9, she began her poetic endeavours by exploring the work of William Shakespeare. That interest blossomed into spoken word poetry with themes centered around everyday life, struggles and social issues in need of attention. Her goal is to inspire youth to discover art in poetry.

Wali Shah is the city’s 2017 Poet Laureate and is currently mentoring Zseder. He will serve as a mentor for the newly named Youth Poet Laureate until his term ends in 2019.

Interested candidates must be 25 years of age or younger as of April 1 and a current resident of Mississauga. For submission package, application requirements and detailed outline of the Youth Poet Laureate’s roles and responsibilities, visit culture.mississauga.ca/event/be-next-youth-poet-laureate.

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