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December 11, 2021 @ 4:00 pm EST - 6:00 pm EST

Meeting Location:
  • Online
The Muse Writers Center
2200 Colonial Ave, Suite #3
Norfolk, VA 23517 United States

WORDS MATTER. OUR WORLD MATTERS. (A Poetry Reading and Panel)

Join The Muse Writers Center for a virtual poetry reading and panel featuring 7 Virginia Youth Poet Laureates and Poetry Ambassadors (Reed Williamson, Sasa Aakil, Charlotte Maleski, Trinity Allen, Sainey Ceasay, Yunseo Chung, and Ayana Askew) and NYC Youth Poet Laureate and the Northeastern Regional Finalist for the 2021 National Youth Poet Laureate title Serena Yang — in conversation with Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria. This event will be held via Zoom; register to attend the webinar.

I think if there’s anything that’s going to help us reckon with … grief, it will be the arts, and poetry in particular. Grief, if left unattended, will fester inside; it eats away at the soul. Poetry opens a portal into a space where we can share our feelings with others.

   – Rita Dove, former VA and US Poet Laureate



Sasa Aakil is the 2021 Montgomery County Youth Poet Laureate. She is also a potter, painter, poet, print maker, and bassist. Sasa’s work has appeared in I Am the Night Sky and Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth (2019). She has performed on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and her work is included in the 2018 Scholastic Best Teen Writing Anthology as well as on WTOP for the A Man Was Lynched Yesterday Project (2020). Sasa has a brown belt in Tung Su Do and describes herself as a frequent maker of mistakes. She has been active in the DC art community since age 13 and is now pursuing a degree in Fine Arts at Montgomery College with hopes of transferring to a Historically Black College and University.

Trinity Allen is the Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador for the City of Portsmouth. She is an I.C. Norcom High School honors graduate who completed the Early College program at Tidewater Community College, where she received an Associates Degree in Social Science. Trinity is currently studying Political Science as a Freshman at Howard University. Through her writing, Trinity has always sought to empower those within her community with her words.

Ayana Askew is a Senior at the Historic Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. For the past three years she attended the Governor’s School for the Arts on the Theater track. She is also a straight-A honors student, with a 4.45 GPA. She enjoys playing tennis, swimming, writing poetry, and playing the piano. Ayana recently won gold in the NAACP ACT-SO competition in the poetry performance category both locally and nationally for the second year in a row. Her favorite quote is “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.

Sainey Ceesay is the 2021 Prince George’s County Youth Poet Laureate. She is an Alumni of Joe’s Movement Emporium’s Creative Works Class of 2020, and current member of Words Beats and Life’s DMV slam Team. Her poetry touches on topics like mental health, their blackness and identity as a Gambian-American, Gender Issues, and social injustice. She seeks to find and build community through her poetry and help others to be encouraged to write in order to find emotional healing in their own lives.

Yunseo Chung is a senior at Grafton High School in Yorktown, Virginia. An active Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador, Yunseo has received a 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing National Gold Medal in Poetry, as well as 1st place in the Virginia High School League Creative Writing Competition in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies. In her free time, Yunseo enjoys travelling and bullet journaling.

Charlotte Maleski is a writer, dancer, and filmmaker attending high school in Arlington, VA. Her first spoken word performance was at an open mic for her middle school; since then, she has returned to this school to lead poetry workshops. In 2019, she qualified at the countywide level for the Optimist International Oratorical contest. She is an alumna of the University of Virginia’s Young Writers’ Workshop, and her poetry was recognized at the regional level of the 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Currently, she serves as Arlington’s Youth Poet Laureate of 2021. She was also a member of the 2020 DC Youth Slam Team.

Reed Williams is a trans poet from Virginia Beach and currently serves as the Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate. She is a second year student at the University of Virginia studying English Literature and Government. She started writing poetry as a form of protest literature against recent government efforts to limit the rights of trans youth across the country. Her work focuses on promoting inclusivity through vulnerability and openness about the experience of growing up as a transgender youth.

Serena Yang is a poet and writer who serves as the 2021 NYC Youth Poet Laureate and the Northeastern Regional Finalist for the 2021 National Youth Poet Laureate title. Born in Singapore and raised in Queens, she is a first-generation Chinese American immigrant, and her work reflects her myriad identities and moves toward our collective liberation. A former Resist/Recycle/Regenerate fellow with The W.O.W Project, 2019 Youth Poet Ambassador at Urban Word NYC, and member of the Beyond Acceptance Research Collective (BARC), she also performed at the 2021 NYC COVID Memorial Ceremony alongside the New York City Mayor & The NY Philharmonic, and has appeared on NPR, Washington Post, The New York Times, and The New Yorker Magazine. She approaches art in all its mediums as the fire, fuel, and food for change, and believes imagination and storytelling is critical to justice work and writes, always, with the knowledge that a better world is possible.


This program of VA Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria was made possible with support from the Academy of American Poets, the Mellon Foundation, The Poetry Society of Virginia, The Muse Writers Center,Urban Word NYC, and Teens With a Purpose.

Please note: This class or event will be held online (using Zoom or a similar live platform). To participate, students or attendees should have a stable internet connection. Class participants: you should have a computer or device with a webcam and microphone; and your Zoom link will be automatically sent to you after you register. Check your spam box if you don't see it.