Words Beats & Life is proud to announce Kenneth “Kenny” Carroll III as the 2017 DC Youth Poet Laureate! Kenny was selected out of four finalists by a panel of guest judges representing the Greater Washington area’s highest caliber of spoken word and poetry performance including Pages Matam, Gabriel “Asheru” Benn, Raquel “Ra” Brown, Patrick Washington, and Lauren Bullock.
Kenny, a senior at Wilson High School, was crowned on November 1st, 2016 at Busboys and Poets, 5th & K. Part of a long standing tradition of black literary arts movements in the District of Columbia, Kenny is the son of Kenneth Carroll, former Director of the DC WritersCorps and founder of the country’s first Youth Poetry Slam League. As communities of native Washingtonian residents continue to shrink and critics of the genre claim poetry’s dwindling relevance, Kenny’s title speaks to the inspiring resilience of DC’s cultural heritage. The Youth Poet Laureate program is a subsidiary of the National Youth Poet Laureate program led by award-winning youth literary arts and youth development program Urban Word, which seeks to uplift youth voices through publication, mentorship, and performance opportunities.
Words Beats & Life coordinates the local DC chapter of this program and ensures each DC Youth Poet Laureate receives a book deal with Penmanship Books, a performance tour throughout the city, and professional development resources. As the second ever DC Youth Poet Laureate, Kenny will follow last year’s laureate, Malachi Byrd, who recently returned to Princeton after representing DC in both the National Poetry Slam in Georgia as well as the Individual World Poetry Slam in Arizona and whose book Crowning Too Early is forthcoming from Penmanship Books.