Mayor's Office Press Release

Houston’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Announced

HSPVA Senior Andrew White to Represent the City with Voice, Words

November 13, 2015 -- Mayor Annise Parker, in partnership with Writers in the Schools (WITS) and the Houston Public Library, announced the appointment of the City of Houston’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, Andrew White, at the Writers in the Schools’ Celebration of Story gala on Nov. 12, 2015.

White, 18, was chosen by Mayor Parker from 45 talented Houston-area applicants ages 14-19 to represent the city by sharing his powerful voice, leadership and love of Houston at many events city- and state-wide.
White will also receive a book deal from Penmanship Books to publish a collection of poems, a podcast platform, a mentorship from Houston Poet Laureate Dr. Robin Davidson, and a tablet PC.

“Andrew demonstrates a commitment to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, human relations, diversity and education across Houston,” said Mayor Parker. “Houston needs more young voices speaking to young people, and I am confident and pleased he will use his talents be a national voice for this great city.”

“We are delighted Andrew was chosen to be a voice for Houston youth,” said Writers in the Schools Executive Director Robin Reagler. “His platform will empower his peers and adults alike to speak up and know their words can make a difference.”

“We congratulate Andrew in this new position as he helps to motivate and inspire students to become better writers, to enjoy reading, as well as to understand and love the art of poetry,” said Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, director of Houston Public Library. “We are looking forward to the contributions and impact that Andrew will bring, and are ready to hear his poetic voice.”

White is a senior and creative writing major at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. A founding member of the Houston Art for the New Generation teen leadership group at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (hang@MFAH), he has also engaged in dramatic writing intensives at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, takes playwriting and spoken word classes at Houston’s Alley Theatre, and regularly performs in plays at HSPVA.

The search for Houston’s first Youth Poet Laureate was launched in September as part of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program. Support was provided by Urban Word NYC, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Scatter Radio, PEN Center USA, and Penmanship Books.

“As Houston’s first Youth Poet Laureate, I hope I can spread the news that words matter. Together we must write the poems that need to be heard, poems that will unite and inspire us,” said White.

To learn more about the Youth Poet Laureate program and to follow White throughout the year, visit witshouston.org/poet-laureate.

About Writers in the Schools
WITS is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that engages children in the pleasure and power of reading and writing. WITS is the largest literary arts organization in Texas and the leader of the national WITS Alliance network of 32 organizations. WITS writers work in year-long programs in more than 350 classrooms helping students and teachers develop their creative and analytical thinking skills. Learn about our school and community writing programs, summer camps, or sign up for our blog at www.witshouston.org.

About Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.

For further information visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org, on Twitter @houstonlibrary or call 832.393.1313.