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Sonoma County

Youth Poet Laureate

Contest Now Open

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California Poets in the Schools Seeks Next 

Youth Poet Laureate of Sonoma County




Sonoma County California Poets in the Schools aims to acknowledge a student who has achieved excellence in poetry.  To this end, we will name the next Youth Poet Laureate of Sonoma County in November 2023.  We will support this young person as an emerging arts leader for the county - who is helping to raise the profile of poetry and develop its audience. 


  • This student should be between the ages of 13 and 19. 

  • They must be a county resident who expects to remain in the county between November, 2023 and November, 2024.

  • They should also have demonstrated their commitment to literary arts and community engagement through participation in volunteer and community service, clubs, afterschool activities, and extra academic activities. 

  • California Poets in the Schools will administer this program as a regional partner of Urban Word.

  • The Youth Poet Laureate will serve a one year term and is expected to participate in at least four public functions. 

  • YPL will receive a $500 stipend and a publishing contract for a chapbook of their work, or an anthology that includes their work and that of other finalists. 


  • YPL nominations may come from any organization or individual. 

  • Application must be completed online. 

  • We will email or mail a hard copy application to anyone who requests one.  Please contact to request.

  • With the application, three of the student’s poems must be submitted, totaling no more than ten pages.   

  • For finalists, an adult sponsor will be required to provide a letter of support. 

  • A committee of respected local poets will review applications and choose finalists. 

  • Finalists will be asked to attend a judging session so that their ability to present their poems effectively (as well as writing good poems) can be assessed. 

  • The winner will be announced in November, 2023.



Sonoma County Youth Poet Laureate, 2020-21

Zoya Ahmed served as the first Youth Poet Laureate of Sonoma County in 2020-21. Zoya attended Maria Carrillo High School in Sonoma County. Zoya embraces her diverse background as a first generation South Asian American, having both roots in Pakistan and India. This colorful heritage is her drive. Every day Zoya is empowered to work hard towards achieving her goals, humbled by the opportunities she is given, and inspired to give back to the community. Her biggest motivators are her parents and her family, who encourage her each and every day. They are her muse; they symbolize the meaning of sacrifice in her life. Their stories, especially those of the women in Zoya's family, are what give her writing a spark of creativity and perspective.

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Sonoma County Youth Poet Laureate, 2021-22

Ella Wen is a senior at Maria Carrillo High School and is incredibly passionate about the arts, especially poetry. She loves dedicating her time to helping those around her, whether it be volunteering at a local community kitchen or reciting and writing poems for public audiences. Poetry has inspired her to cultivate a relationship with herself, the realm of art, and the ever-changing world, being the language her heart feels most free in.

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