City of Chicago Announces Inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate avery r. young

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, in partnership with the Chicago Public Library, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Poetry Foundation, proudly named avery r. young as the inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate.

An award-winning poet, educator, musician, artist, composer and producer, avery r. young’s work spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts and literature. He is co-director of The Floating Museum, co-mentor for the Rebirth Youth Poetry Ensemble, a Cave Canem fellow, Leader for a New Chicago 2022 awardee, and performer with his band, de deacon board. His poetry and prose have been featured in The Breakbeat Poets, Teaching Black, Poetry Magazine, The Golden Shovel Anthology, AIMPrint, and alongside images in photographer Cecil McDonald Jr’s In The Company of Black.  He is the composer and librettist for a new commissioned work from The Lyric Opera of Chicago titled safronia.

HIs full-length recording tubman is the soundtrack to his collection of poetry, Neckbone. young’s work in performance, visual text, and sound design has been featured in several exhibitions and theatre festivals - otably The Hip Hop Theatre Festival, The Museum of Contemporary Art, and American Jazz Museum.  He is the featured vocalist on flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening. With more than two decades as a teaching artist, he has mentored generations of young poets. young was born in Chicago and grew up in the city’s North Austin neighborhood.

The Chicago Poet Laureate program, which was announced in January 2023, comes from the advocacy of the city’s creative and civic communities. It aims to increase awareness of Chicago’s historic contributions to the literary arts while celebrating and honoring the efforts of Chicago’s working artists. As Chicago Poet Laureate, young will serve a two-year term and be awarded $50,000 for the commissioning of new poems and to create public programming, including programs for youth and students. The Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador for the city’s literary and creative communities. 

young’s first public appearance as Chicago Poet Laureate is at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at CPL’s Poetry Fest at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St). young will be in conversation with Dr. Eve L. Ewing.