A’dora Willis – District Heights
Leilani Clendenin – Bowie
My name is Leilani Clendenin. I attend Suitland High School in the Visual and Performing Arts Program. As a writer I have won awards in two Write-A-Book competitions, and I have had 3 of my poems published. I am a singer as well. I was given the opportunity two perform for President Barack Obama twice with my school choir, and to sing with many famous classical artists. After school, my activities include swim team, and rehearsals for various choirs. I love to give back to my community. Throughout the years I have participated in multiple outreaches at different shelters, volunteer opportunities at my church such as packaging dinners for Thanksgiving, and volunteered as a summer camp counselor. ' I love poetry and I love music. I believe both of these things are reflected in my writing and personality. I hope to someday innovate the way music and poetry are each perceived.
2017 Youth Poet Laureate
Kimaya Faison – Lanham
Kimaya Faison: I have yet to win any awards but I was a top 5 finalist in my schools science fair. I have written two 130 page novels of fiction that I have yet to publish. I have over 30 poems written along with some songs & I also play the guitar. I and a couple of other students have worked together to create short films and some commercials. I have been writing since I was 10. Volunteer/ community service: every summer I attend girl scouts camp and help the younger children learn new things such as science, arts and crafts, and health. Clubs and afterschool activities: I was involved in technology club in middle school along with chorus. As of right now I am only involved in choir.
Karen Avila - Riverdale
I am Karen, a current senior at Parkdale High school in Riverdale, Maryland.I often try to get myself and my words involved somehow in my community and school.I was a student aid for my counselors for volunteering.I enjoy writing stories and poetry that symbolize me, my past and present.I am a part of my schools program after school called "Lyrikal Storm."I have participated and won 3 contests held by my school's library every year.I enjoy expressing myself to others about problems being faced by students everyday.
Nicholas Warner – Hyattsville
My name is Nicholas Warner I"m from Guyana South america i came to america when i was seven years of age right after the house i was living at was broken into and robbed i then in my later years when i was 10 years old found my immense passion in poetry. i put all my pain, frustration in poetry because i feel like if i don't use my voice in poetry then i wont say nothing at all. i currently live with my mom,dad, 12 year old sister and 1 year old brother we go to Ebenezer church of god where we do can food drive,toy drives and flea markets sale to help give back to the people around us. In the future i see myself becoming a lawyer and helping people out even more.
David Estes – Fort Washington
Tai’won Gladden – District Heights
Tai'won Gladden is a 12th grade student at Suitland High School. With plenty of ambition and a voice to be heard she's hoping to start a career in hip hop music in the upcoming year of 2017. Tai'won plans to commit to our United States Air Force once she graduates high school. Tai'won loves poetry, music and to cheer. With all of these passions taking her into different directions she's bound to go somewhere and be something.
CiCi Felton – Landover Hills
Cici Felton is a college sophomore at Morgan State University who is a fire-spitting poet and activist. She has been writing since age 9 and is a two-time member of the DC Youth Slam Team, as well as a member of her school’s poetry organization MSU Poets. She has performed in various venues all over the world including South Africa, Switzerland, the Kennedy Center, George Washington University, and the Harlem Renaissance Festival, to name a few. She has written two books, “Daddy’s Little Girl: Gone in 3 Minutes” and “Secrets of the Midnight Hour” which consist of her own original poems. Just this year, her work has been featured in Beltway Quarterly Journal, Theories of Her Anthology, and the Baltimore City Paper. Her goal is to touch others with her story and let the audience know her truth. She says if she can touch at least one life that’s enough to keep her writing for those without a voice. She enjoys mentoring youth and believes poetry is instrumental in saving lives.
Emmanuel Adesioye - Largo
On the surface I think I am like most young and modern African American men: I take school seriously, I have dreams and goals for the future that I am determined to make happen. I do not expect anyone to do the hard work for me. What makes me unique is how I choose to spend my time outside of school. I come from a middle income background, my parents are separated and I live with my mother and sister. I occasionally speak to my father, who now resides on the other side of the country; regardless, of my background I still feel very lucky to have a supportive family behind me. Given my background, I knew I would have to get a job in the summer and/or after school to help fund college. Instead of pursuing the easiest job I could, like many of my friends, I purposely sought work through ROTC where I knew I would be able to learn new skills as well as, give me a sense of fulfillment, doing volunteer work because I love to help people. I know that every summer I am helping the people in my community,by working at the homeless shelter and helping take care of older people,picking up trash in the society with my group,volunteer in the library helped with some arrangements and stuff like file things and i volunteered in the redskin stadium with the Dream to soar we serve dream sits and help the people with they need if it is in our power. In addition to volunteering my time, I am also a cashier and I have found it to offer incomparable training in multi-tasking, responsibility, money-management, perseverance. Though I do not naturally excel in all subjects, my grades seem to show otherwise. Spelling and writing has always been a challenge for me, but I have learned through my involvement with many varsity level sports that quitting never feels as good as conquering your own fears. Keeping that in the back of my mind, I have sought not only writing classes to really help me focus on mastering the written word, but I have also challenged myself to take my problems head on, like a speech class, which I find very difficult but has helped me immensely with learning words properly, giving me the foundation to figure out challenging words in English as well. I am now on the cusp of attending college and preparing for a career, and I am confident that the determination I have displayed thus far will only grow stronger as my course work becomes more demanding. At this point, I think I want to focus on a career in the Medical field because the way people are treated in the hospital fascinates me. l also like to take care of people. I know that I am young and the career path I find myself on after earning an undergraduate degree may be very different than what I envision now, but I plan to make my college education a well-rounded and broadened one that hopefully will allow me to explore both my academic and artistic interests like acting especially for the drama team in my school,dance for the school,about to join the marching band,love to write poems and i am on the debate team. so that wherever the future takes me I will have a solid foundation upon which to build a career. What my goals are is to get the best education possible, be the first person in my family to get a Phd/doctorate and be the best doctor i can be for me and my family.
Dione Smith - District Heights
I'm a very goofy person, and i love to see people smile. I was in the competition last year and I became the poet ambassador along side some really amazing poets. we even went to the Brave New Voices Poetry Festival in D.C. during the summer. I like free styling poetry more than anything - it just feels right. Freestyle to me is also fun and a good way to practice. I write poems about identity and about freedom.
Jasslyn Ford – Fort Washington
Jasslyn started writing poetry when she was nine after she heard a woman in church being asked to recite one of her poems. She quickly began to read up on Maya Angelou and fell more in love with poetry. Her very first poem was entitled "Flying Above and Beyond" and after reciting it in church, Jasslyn was sure that this is what she wanted to spend her time doing. Jasslyn began to get even more serious about poetry in middle school, writing poems more often and performing at school assemblies. Recently, she performed at the PGCPS Fatherhood Awards earlier this year. Jasslyn aspires to become a renowned poet and to inspire and change people's lives by her words. Today, Jasslyn sings, writes music, dances, participates in drama club, draws, and is planning her second music festival. Jasslyn aspires to become a renowned poet and feels her purpose is to inspire and change people's lives by her words.
SAMANTHA JACKSON - Oxon Hill
My name is Sam, some people call me Yellow, so that's really cool. Yellow is my favorite color because it's a happy color and, personally, it's a feeling. I try to be yellow as much as I can be. My dream is become a film creator/director and tell hundreds of stories and grow with the world around me. Poetry has been my backbone ever since my sophomore year in high school, I'm a senior now. I go to Oxon Hill High School and I have no idea where I want to go to college. People tend to ask me that often nowadays. People expect me to have a lot of answers that I don't have, but I figure that's okay because I'm only 17 and I'm just trying to grow in the most yellow ways possible. I believe I'll get to where I'm supposed to be, but it'll all take some time. Anyway, I really love poetry because being an introvert for most of my life I was never good at actual communication or expressing my feelings- poetry allows me to do that. Since I've gotten into poetry seriously, back in 10th grade, I've been in a few poetry competitions, have performed a countless number of times, and have even traveled to Atlanta, Georgia during the summer of 2016 to Brave New Voices- an international poetry competition & festival. To this day, that was one of the best experiences of my life. It really made me appreciative of the environment around me, introduced me to some phenomenal people whom I still admire, and educated me on the lives of many different individuals from all different backgrounds and I will always be grateful for that experience. One of my main goals in life, and what I believe one of my main purposes in this world, is to love. Love those around me, love what I do not understand, and love myself enough to be completely submerged in love itself. I think that is important. Love, friendship, experience, growth, change... all of these things are important; all of these things are poetry to me.
Isaiah Holloway – Fort Washington
Isaiah Randré Holloway a.k.a. Izzy Hollow
I work as a member of the Media Ministry at my church, Ebenezer AME located in Fort Washington, MD volunteering as both a cameraman and assistant sound technician. I monitor live streaming and assist in producing CDs of the weekly worship services. I am very involved in extra-curricular activities. I am a member of the Drama Department/Drama Club where I played a role in our school holiday production. As a member of the Audio Visual Club and Television Production Department, I write storyboards and skits, and assist in editing film and media. I'm a member of the Infamous, Stellar-Award winning Oxon Hill High School choir, under the direction of Dr. Emery C. Andrews, as well as both the Writers and Poetry Club at my high school. I enjoy reading, writing short stories and poetry, singing, Anime, playing tennis, and helping others.