BOSTON – Monday, January 13, 2020 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, in partnership with the Boston Public Library, 826 Boston, MassLEAP, and Urban Word, announced Alondra Bobadilla of Hyde Park as the City of Boston’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate. Bobadilla, a 17-year-old student at Fenway High School, was recognized at the Boston Youth Poet Laureate Finalist Showcase this Saturday at the Central Library in Copley Square.
"Congratulations to Alondra on this prestigious accomplishment of being named Boston’s inaugural Youth Poet Laureate," said Mayor Walsh. "Empowering Boston’s youth and encouraging them to share their creativity and talent is so important for the future of our City, and I’m confident that she will do an excellent job of helping to make that happen."
Photo: Alondra Bobadilla, Boston’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, with Chief of Arts and Culture Kara Elliott-Ortega and Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola
"Becoming Boston’s first ever youth poet laureate is an incredible honor and I am humbled and excited for what this position will bring," said Boston Youth Poet Laureate Alondra Bobadilla. "I hope that in the next two years I will be able to foster a fiery love and appreciation for all things poetry and literature in the City of Boston alongside the various incredible people I will work with. The City is transitioning and making incredible strides and I am so happy to be a part of it."
The City of Boston announced a call for Boston’s first Youth Poet Laureate in October, and selected 10 semifinalists to participate in in-person interviews. From there, a selection committee narrowed down the applicant pool to three finalists where Alondra was ultimately selected. The semi-finalists included:
- Anjalequa Birkett of Roslindale
- Asiyah Herrera of Roxbury
- Blessing Olayinka Adedeji of Hyde Park
- Eliza Carpenter of Dorchester
- Isabelle Goodrich of Hyde Park
- Kaylah Tshitenge of Hyde Park
- Madalen Bigsby-Licht of Jamaica Plain
- Norah Brady of Jamaica Plain (finalist)
- Tariq Charles of Dorchester (finalist)
Photo (left to right): Eliza Carpenter, Alondra Bobadilla, Norah Brady, Isabelle Goodrich, Tariq Charles, Kaylah Tshitenge, Madalen Bigsby-Licht and Asiyah Herrera.
"We are excited to have Alondra as our inaugural Youth Poet Laureate," said Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola. "Her passion for her home, poetry, and issues affecting the residents of Boston humbled all of us on the judging panel. I’m excited to learn and grow with this young person as we both work to excite the City around poetry."
As Youth Poet Laureate, Bobadilla will work alongside Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola as an advocate for poetry, language and the arts, and to create a unique artistic legacy through public readings and events.The mission of both roles is to raise the status of poetry in the everyday consciousness of Bostonians. Similar to the Boston Poet Laureate, the Youth Poet Laureate is a ceremonial appointment.
"This new role is an exciting addition to Boston’s arts community, especially as we continue to work toward enhanced arts education for all Boston students, and more opportunities to engage in the arts citywide," said Kara Elliott-Ortega. "As Youth Poet Laureate Alondra will help foster creative expression and connection among young people in Boston."
Bobadilla will receive a $500 honorarium each year, and may serve a maximum of two consecutive two-year terms. She will also receive mentoring from the City of Boston Poet Laureate, will have a space at the Boston Public Library, and will publish a collection of poems while in her role.
In addition to this, Bobadilla and the two finalists received tuition and housing scholarships for Social Justice Week: Writers and Artists as Activists at The Fine Arts Work Center, a historic art colony in Provincetown. During this week-long summer program, they will participate in daily workshops with Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola, as well as collaborate with other artists, writers, and featured instructors. The three finalists and seven semi-finalists all received two tickets from Huntington Theatre Company for any show this season, four free passes to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and a gift bag, two books of poetry from MassLEAP, a GrubStreet membership, a copy of Porsha Olayiwola’s book of poetry I shimmer sometimes too, two year-long memberships to the Museum of Fine Arts, and a youth poetry anthology and t-shirt from 826 Boston.
To learn more about the Poet Laureate program, visit here.