First Ever Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate Announced; Honor Goes to Amanda Gorman, 11th Grader at New Roads School

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Amanda Gorman, an 11th grade student at Santa Monica’s New Roads School, is named the first ever Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate at a ceremony at the Los Angeles Public Library. This honor includes publication of her first book of poetry and a Tour of Performances with other finalists.

Amanda Gorman, LA Youth Poet Laureate

16-year-old Amanda Gorman has been named the first ever Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate by the award-winning literary arts organization Urban Word, along with the Los Angeles County Commission for Human Relations, the Los Angeles Public Library, and PEN Center USA.

Amanda, 16, is a student at New Roads High School, a K-12 independent school in Santa Monica, CA, and has participated in writing programs at WriteGirl and Beyond Baroque. She has been a youth delegate to the United Nations, and founded her own organization, One Pen One Page, aimed at providing writing workshops and mentorship to suffering schools nationally and abroad. On June 14th at Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium, Gorman, along with 18 other top poets from across Los Angeles County, performed their original work that included love letters to Los Angeles, Chicano praise poems, and poems outlining the challenges of high school and standardized testing. Amanda read “Neighborhood Anthem,” a poem celebrating her neighborhood and the work of her mother, a public school teacher in Watts. (Amanda’s performance at the inaugural LA Youth Poet Laureate Commencement Performance can be viewed at

As Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda will receive a book deal from Penmanship Books to publish her first collection of poems, and will also give a Los Angeles Public Library Tour of performances with the other finalists, named LA Youth Poet Ambassadors. Amanda says, "I am extremely honored and blessed to be the LA Youth Poet Laureate. It gives me an incredible an opportunity to combine my passion for writing with the philosophy of advocacy and social justice that I gained from my loved ones and my school, New Roads. I hope to deeply challenge and push myself as laureate while inspiring others to reach for their goals."

Los Angeles joins a growing number of counties and cities in the National Youth Poet Laureate network, which has gained momentum in the last few years. The Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate will blaze a trail as the first ever countywide honor among this group. Recently, the program made national news when the New York City Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, was selected to read for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mayoral inauguration at City Hall. This fall, Urban Word will partner with local organizations in Nashville, Oklahoma, Baltimore, Houston and South Florida to launch inaugural Youth Poet Laureate programs. “Amanda Gorman is an ideal Youth Poet Laureate because she is not only an inspiring young poet, but she also embodies the values that promote social justice and equity, leadership, and youth voice,” says Michael Cirelli, Executive Director of Urban Word. “Her leadership as LA’s first ever Youth Poet Laureate will inspire countless youth as this program grows across the city and county.”

About New Roads School
New Roads School is an innovative, fully-accredited K-12 independent school serving more than 650 students on campuses in West Los Angeles (grades K-5) and Santa Monica (grades 6-12), California. New Roads is committed to nurturing the curiosity of each student while delivering top-quality college preparatory education to a student body representing the broad economic and cultural diversity of Greater Los Angeles. To back up that commitment, New Roads devotes approximately 50% of its tuition dollars to need-based financial aid each year.

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Dawn Fairchild
New Roads School
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