avery r. young, Chicago Poet Laureate, pictured at the Poetry Foundation. | Photo by Patrick L. Pyszka, City of Chicago

On Monday, the city of Chicago and the Poetry Foundation named avery r. young, an Austin resident, as the inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate, a program created in partnership with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Chicago Public Library to increase awareness of Chicago’s contributions to the literary arts. 

As an experienced interdisciplinary artist, young will serve as an ambassador for the city’s creative communities for a two-year term and will be awarded $50,000 for the commissioning of new poems and public programming, including programs for youth and students. 

“From the open mic to lecture halls, from Lollapalooza to the Art Institute, I have been on a journey to figure out all the spaces where language can make room and build. I don’t walk into this appointment by myself, I enter this tenure with a community of social activists, creatives and municipal entities excited about the many ways in which this Poet Laureate appointment can weave poetry into the fabric of this great city,” avery r. young said in a press release. 

Young is an award-winning poet, educator, composer, performer, activist and producer, whose work spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts and literature. 

“I am proud to name avery r. young as the first-ever Chicago Poet Laureate,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “As a multifaceted, boundary-breaking poet and transformational youth educator who was born and bred in Chicago, avery will serve and strengthen our city’s literary and creative communities.”

On April 29, young will participate in the Chicago Public Library’s annual “Poetry Fest” event, which will be held at the Harold Washington Library Center.