DC Youth Poet Laureate

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.


Along with the prestigious title of Washington DC Youth Poet Laureate, the winning poet will win a book deal from Penmanship Books to publish their first collection of poems, as well as a library tour. The Washington DC Youth Poet Laureate and Washington DC Poet Ambassadors will have numerous opportunities and platforms to share their powerful voices, their leadership, and love of Washington DC at numerous events across the DC Metro Area.
Urban Word and our other partners recognize the youth voice and community engagement as vital for empowering young people to affect positive changes in their communities and beyond. Local and national partners include Youth Speaks, Busboys and Poets, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the DC Public Libraries. This year’s Washington DC Youth Poet Laureate Contest theme is EDUCATION.


Patrick “Black Picasso” Washington

Patrick Washington


Raquel 'RA' Brown

Raquel ‘RA’ Brown

Lauren Bullock

Pages Matam

Pages Matam







Book the DC Youth Poet Laureate for Your Event

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Applicants must be between the ages of 14-19 years old and current residence of the DC Metro Area.
Next Fall, please submit 5 original poems / raps / performances (and / or YouTube Links to your poems).
At least one poem, rap, or performance must address this year’s theme of JOY.
Include a RESUME that has your name, address, phone # and email.
You may choose to include a short cover letter detailing, your accomplishments, community service, after school programs, volunteer experiences, and awards.

Submit your application and documents using the online registration form available on this page.

The 2016 Application deadline has passed. INCOMPLETE ENTRIES WILL NOT BE JUDGED.

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