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Nashville Youth Poet Laureate

cassThe Nashville Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, diversity and tolerance, and youth voice across Nashville.

The Nashville Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of the Office of the Mayor, Southern Word, Nashville Public Library, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, in partnership with Urban Word, and supported by the PEN Center USA, the Academy of American Poets, and the Nashville Public Library Foundation.

Youth who are selected to be semifinalists will need to perform at a semifinal event on Thursday, November 16 at the Nashville Public Library. The finalists from the semifinal event will participate in the State of the Word scheduled for Saturday, December 16 at 7pm at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. We will be selecting the next Youth Poet Laureate on that evening as well as highlighting top pieces from writers from area schools.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE is Friday, October 20th at 5:00pm.

To Apply:
1: Applicants must be from Nashville and between the ages of 13 – 19 years old.
2: Submit 3 original poems/raps/performances as word documents or video links.
3. Submit at least one poem that speaks to the themes of Human Relations, Diversity, and Positive Social Change.
4. Include a RESUME that has your name, address, phone #, and e-mail; and details all of your accomplishments, community service, after school programs, volunteer experiences, and awards.
5. Please EMAIL any documents you are unable to upload to
6. Top applicants will be selected to perform in a semifinal event on Thursday, November 16. From this event, three finalists will be selected to perform at State of the Word on Saturday, December 16.
7. To ensure a range of applicants, only two poets from a school will be permitted to participate in the semifinals and only one poet per school will participate in the finals.
8. You must be a Davidson County resident.

Click Here to Apply

Featured Programs

Southern Word offers FREE writing and music production workshops at numerous Nashville Public Library branches, school and college campuses, and community centers. See below for our program schedule.


Workshop Location Day Time
Music Production Audio Suite Main Library Mon-Fri 3:00-6:00p
Music Production Guest Producer Series Main Library Mon 4:00-5:15p
Music Production Workshop Green Hills Library Tues 3:00-4:30p
Life of the Rhymer Workshop Rocketown Tues 4:00-5:30p
Music Production Workshop Goodlettsville Library Tues 4:30-6:00p
Fiction Workshop Main Library Wed 3:30-5:00p
Music Production Workshop East Branch Library Wed 3:00-4:30p
Cypher (4:00p) Southeast Library Wed 4:00-5:30p
The Power of the Pen: Spoken Word Workshop Main Library Thurs 4:00-5:30p
Music Production Workshop Bordeaux Library 1st Thurs 4:00-5:30p
Music Production Workshop Edgehill Library Thurs, except 1st Thurs 3:00-4:30p
Music Production Workshop Bellevue Library Thurs 4:30-6:00p
Music Production Master Class Main Library Fri 3:30-5:00p


Workshop Location Day Time
Spoken Word Workshop Nashville State Community College – White Bridge Campus Tues 12:00-1:30p
TSU Soulfire Tennessee State University Wed 5:00-6:30p


About Our Programs

Through assemblies, in‐class residencies, spoken word clubs, and after‐school workshops, Southern Word offers creative solutions for teaching literacy to reach learners with widely varying learning styles. Contact us to find out more about how we can partner with your school, business, or community organization.

Spoken Word Workshop: Teens work with mentors to learn the art of writing spoken word poetry and song verse. Writers of all genres are welcome.

Fiction Workshop: High school teens work with mentors to create short stories and other forms of fiction. Workshops lead to the publishing of a final anthology.

Music Production Workshop: High school teens interested in songwriting, singing, and rapping work with mentors to produce their own music including how to make beats and music tracks using Logic Pro.

Music Production Audio Suite: A mentor facilitates these times as a combination of focused music production workshops and open access to the StudioNPL audio suite. Reserve times at the StudioNPL desk. For grades 9-12.

Cypher: Teen poets, emcees, DJs, spoken word artists, and producers meet to develop their work, share pieces, and collaborate on projects.

Music Production Master Class: High school teens learn how to make beats, produce tracks, and record live music and vocals in StudioNPL’s audio suite. Participants will complete certification necessary to run their own recording sessions.

Guest Producer Series: StudioNPL, Southern Word, and Toy Box Studio partner to welcome some of Nashville’s top engineers and producers for feature sessions with high school teens. Sign up at the Studio NPL desk.

Partner Schools and Organizations

Austin Peay State University
Belmont University
Big Picture High School
Cameron Prep
Eagleville High School
Hume Fogg Academic Magnet
J.E. Moss Elementary School
Jere Baxter Middle School
Lead Public Schools
Lipscomb University
Maplewood High School
Margaret Maddox Family YMCA
Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet
Middle Tennessee State University
Monroe Harding
Nashville Public Library
Oakland High School
Oasis Center
Overton High School, Nashville
Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet
Smyrna West Alternative High School
Station Camp High School
Stratford High School
Tennessee Tech University
Tennessee State University
Urban Word
Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital
Vanderbilt University
White House High School


Spoken word poetry is a dynamic teaching tool that allows poet mentors to help students develop strong writing and speaking skills. Regardless of whether students self-identify as “poets,” participants learn how to represent themselves, their experience, and their ideas powerfully. Sessions loop back to Common Core reading, writing, speaking, and listening standards. In addition to learning about literary tools and communication techniques, students apply these tools to magnify the strength of their writing and their speaking. Our partner teachers are skilled educators who understand the need for additional, compelling models of contemporary literacy to engage and reach the students represented in their diverse classrooms.


Spoken word artists conduct workshops with partner youth agencies. Workshops focus on building the writing and performance skills necessary to succeed in open mics and poetry slams. More importantly, the workshop focus on teaching students the communication skills are necessary to succeed in life. Lessons center on the development of craft, voice, and identity. Workshop participants have first opportunity to perform in performances and events.

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Southern Word, 1704 Charlotte Ave, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37203