Youth poetry writing
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Santa Cruz Public Libraries and the Santa Cruz County Poet Laureate (SCCPL), in partnership with Urban Word, are celebrating the inaugural cohort of five finalists for Santa Cruz County Youth Poet Laureate (2024-25).

This free celebration will take place at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St., in Santa Cruz on Wednesday, April 10, at 6pm. All are welcome and encouraged to reserve their seat by visiting

As previously announced, the five finalists are Madeline Aliah, Simon Ellefson, Sylvi Kayser, Dina Lusztig Noyes and Gregory Souza.

The program, hosted by current SCCPL Farnaz Fatemi, will include five-minute readings from each of the finalists plus appearances by special guests Joseph Jason Santiago LaCour, poet, delivering a poem for the cohort of writers, and Valentina Russell, Aptos High School senior and SC County Poetry Out Loud winner, reciting her winning entry.

The event will conclude with an announcement of Santa Cruz County’s first Youth Poet Laureate (YPL), who will serve a one-year term. The YPL will be presented with a $500 cash prize, and each of the finalists will receive $100 in honor of their achievements in poetry and community engagement, along with prizes donated by Two Birds Books in Capitola.

The Youth Poet Laureate acts as an advocate and county ambassador for poetry, social action and civic engagement. They will champion their own poetic practice while encouraging their peers through readings, workshops and appearances at events throughout the county. 

As part of the Youth Poet Laureate program, the cohort of finalists will all receive support in various areas, including reading appearances, potential publishing opportunities and community outreach.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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