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Words Matter: Teen Poets on Poetry as a Tool for Survival

“These poems … remind us that when we are at the edge of any kind of precarity, all we have to consider is flight.”

– Luisa A. Igloria, VA Poet Laureate, while hosting Words Matter. Our World Matters.

On an unseasonably warm Sunday this December, eight youth poets joined The Muse for a virtual reading and panel in conversation with Luisa A. Igloria, VA Poet Laureate and Muse Board Member. The event, called Words Matter. Our World Matters., featured 7 Virginia Youth Poet Laureates and Poetry Ambassadors (Reed Williamson, Sasa Aakil, Charlotte Maleski, Trinity Allen, Sainey Ceasay, Yunseo Chung, and Ayana Askew) along with NYC Youth Poet Laureate and the Northeastern Regional Finalist for the 2021 National Youth Poet Laureate title Serena Yang. These extraordinary teens shared words of hope, outrage, resilience, grief, courage and love — in short, all the things that make us human — each in their own unique voice.

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

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

This event was one of nearly a hundred literary events The Muse hosted during 2021, partnering with over 50 different organizations, festivals, conferences, and writers and reaching thousands of viewers.

Miss it live? Look for a recording of the event on the Muse Youtube channel, and take a peek at the event calendar for more upcoming events!