For Immediate Release: 12/30/2021 3:23 pm
City officials have announced the appointment of the next City of Worcester Youth Poet Laureate, Adael Mejia.
Along with the Worcester Poet Laureate, the Youth Poet Laureate serves as an official ambassador to the City’s historic and vibrant cultures of poetry and literature, both using their positions to promote local writers and the transformative qualities of poetry and the written word.
Mejia, a Burncoat High graduate, will begin his term as Youth Poet Laureate in 2022. Mejia assumes the role after the two-year term of the City and Commonwealth’s first Youth Poet Laureate, Amina Mohammed, comes to an end Dec. 31, 2021. Worcester Poet Laureate Juan Matos, whose own term continues through 2022, will serve as a mentor and guide to Meija.
“Congratulations to Adael Mejia, whose talent stood out among an exceptional field of applicants,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide a platform for Adael to share his artistic vision through poetry to the Worcester community. During these turbulent times, we rely on creative people like Adael to help us process the ups and downs life sends our way. We are looking forward to seeing where Adael takes us.”
Mejia said he began writing at a young age while in Ecuador with his father, a teacher. “I would go to school with him and he would have me write different stories, and practice my ABS’s,” Mejia wrote in a personal statement, noting that he learned to express himself at an early age. He would turn to writing when he had trouble fitting in, and eventually discovered a love for theater, dance, music, art, and performing. Following his senior year of high school, he joined the City’s first Create 508 program, which aims to educate and empower young creatives interested in community development and entrepreneurship. “I have a passion for developing youth artists and our growing community,” he wrote.
As Worcester’s second Youth Poet Laureate, Mejia has big plans for his two year term: “I’m going to continue to lead the artistic revolution that is giving Worcester its brand new look. I am going to normalize events dedicated towards art and youth.” Mejia also plans to work with public and alternative schools, and specifically with mental health and rehabilitation programs. “Long story short, I believe children deserve as many chances as it takes to do right! I want to inspire and give hope to our future leaders. No child left behind!”
The objectives of the City of Worcester’s Poet Laureate Programs are to:
• Enhance the presence and appreciation of poetry and literary arts in Greater Worcester;
• Celebrate the spirit of the people and special qualities of Worcester, the City of Innovation;
• Raise awareness of the power of literature, poetry, and the spoken word;
• Provide a forum for collaborative art forms;
• Engage and support an emerging generation of poets and spoken word artists;
• Provide access to poetry and literary arts to all sectors of the community; and
• Encourage the reading and writing of both poetry and the written word.
A four person committee was formed to review the many applications to the Youth Poet Laureate program:
• Therese Gleason Carr: author of poetry chapbooks Libation and Matrilineal, featured poet in multiple publications, multiple-award nominee, Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry from Pacific University, taught children through adults in English as a Second Language, writing, Spanish, and literacy, dyslexia therapist and teaches multi-sensory structured literacy at St. Peter Central Catholic in Worcester.
• Jason Homer: Worcester Public Library Executive Director, Master’s Degree in Library Science from Simmons University, Bachelor of Arts in English from Stonehill College.
• Juan Matos: Worcester Poet Laureate, Master’s Degree in bilingual education from Worcester State University, 32 years teaching Spanish Literature and English as a Second Language, author of 12 poetry books and anthologies, participant in local and international literary festivals, founder of multiple literary groups and workshops.
• Ashley Wonder: Worcester-based spoken word poet and slam poet with over 15 years’ experience, performer at local and national events, workshop facilitator, wrote and published her first chapter book Miraculous Wonder.