Anjalequa Leynneyah Verona Birkett, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, is Boston’s second
Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, together with the Boston Public Library, 826 Boston, MassLEAP, GrubStreet, and Urban Word, announced on March 3 that Anjalequa Leynneyah Verona Birkett has been named the City of Boston’s next Youth Poet Laureate.
“Young people don’t just represent the promise of tomorrow, they’re leaders in our neighborhoods and communities today,” said Wu. “Anjalequa is one of those leaders and I can’t wait to see how she elevates Boston youth voices as Boston’s Youth Poet Laureate.”
Birkett was born and raised in Roxbury, then moved to Roslindale. She is 18 years old and attends the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, where she became involved in the 826 Writers Room. It was there that she was given “a space and community to truly hone and admire her love and technique for writing and poetry.” She draws from her own life experiences and her passion for connecting with those around her. She has volunteered with organizations such as A-VOYCE and BARCC, spreading awareness of social issues that impact her community and helping “make and be the blueprint for change.”
“I will use this opportunity and platform to connect with Boston youth through poetry and the arts, find what issues they want to change and how they want to improve their community, and be the voice that makes it happen in my own way,” said Birkett. “I also want the youth of Boston and Boston residents to find their own voice through poetry and the arts by holding spaces and events for them to come together, learn, give back and improve, as I make myself into a strong representative. I aim to make my time and work in this role impactful, inspiring, loud and true.”
Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola spoke to how former Youth Poet Laureate Alondra Bobadilla paved the way and is now passing her title to Birkett.
“It has been thrilling to see Alondra Bobadilla organize, teach and lead as our inaugural Youth Poet Laureate. I think what’s even more exciting is the passing of the role onto our second laureate, Anjalequa Birkett. We were impressed by Birkett’s poetry, pose, and spirit,” said Olayiwola. “What was most inspiring, however, is that she was a 2019 youth poet laureate finalist. She is in the unique position to be a pillar of perseverance for her peers, for the city, and for poetry. I am excited to see how she continues to enliven her dreams while carving herself into the city’s literary tradition.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.