Santa Barbara Celebrates First Youth Poet Laureate


Madeline Miller has been chosen as the inaugural Santa Barbara County Youth Poet Laureate and Kundai Chikowero has been chosen as the Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador by a panel of esteemed judges, that included the current Santa Barbara Poet Laureate, Emma Trelles. After a series of workshops led by Michelle Detorie and Michelle Pittenger, Miller and Chikowero were chosen from a field of eight young poets attending schools ranging from Carpinteria to Lompoc.


The National Youth Poet Laureate Program (YPL) identifies, celebrates and honors teen poets who exhibit a commitment to not just artistic excellence but also civic engagement, youth leadership and social justice. YPL collaborates with local youth literary arts organizations across the country, as well as leading national literary organizations including the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, PEN Center USA, Cave Canem, and the Library of Congress.


California Poets in the Schools, Santa Barbara in conjunction with the County Office of Arts

and Culture and Urban Word NYC, established the Santa Barbara County Youth Poet Laureate Program in May 2021, joining other municipalities nationwide in celebrating and nurturing the voices of our youth. Over the course of the past year, Cie Gumucio, Michelle Detorie, and Michelle Pittenger built the program. In addition to the workshops, the poets were offered the opportunity to publish poetry broadsides, which have been featured on the Santa Barbara County Youth Poet Laureate Program’s website and social media, and posted in local schools and businesses. “Our program not only provides young poets with the opportunity to develop their craft, but also the opportunity to publish and perform,” says Michelle Detorie.


Madeline Miller was born in Mexico City, Mexico and raised in Santa Barbara, California by

her father, a pastor, and mother, an educator, and like her parents, she has always valued

language arts and education. She is the president of the San Marcos Writer’s Society and Vice

President of the San Marcos Gender and Sexuality Alliance. She is also the Vice President of her school’s advanced women’s choir, Enchanté.


Madeline has competed in a number of poetry slams, including two first place titles at the 2021 San Marcos High School Poetry Slam and the 2021 Santa Barbara County Poetry Slam. Her poem “Bird Song” was published by the Santa Barbara County Arts and Culture Office.

Madeline worked as an assistant at a local law firm, completed an internship with the Santa

Barbara International Film Festival and currently works at Chaucer’s Books. She is involved in the Way Collective and other community activism, and will continue to be involved in the

community during her gap year.


More About the National Youth Poet Laureate Program: Founded in 2008, the National Youth Poet Laureate Program identifies and celebrates teen poets

who exhibit a commitment to artistic excellence, civic engagement, youth leadership and social justice. Learn more at http://www.youthlaureate.org


More about California Poets in the Schools: California Poets in the Schools is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1964. One of the nation’s largest writers-in-residence programs, CalPoets reaches more than 22,000 K-12 students each year in public, private, and alternative schools, after-school programs, juvenile detention, hospitals, and other community settings. CalPoets is supported by the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, foundations, corporations, and generous individuals. Learn more at http://www.californiapoets.org


More About Urban Word: Urban Word is an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization that collaborates with local youth literary arts organizations across the country to provide uncensored platforms for youth voice. It is championed by the leading nationa