Maui Arts & Entertainment

Hawaiʻi Youth Poet Laureate to be announced

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Lua Bowman is the 2021 Hawaiʻi Youth Poet Laureate. Her successor will be named Saturday after a poetry presentation by youths.

More than a dozen young poets statewide will be presenting their works at a competition to select the Hawaiʻi Youth Poet Laureate this year.

The edited event, filmed at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, will be streamed for free Saturday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. Streaming will be available on the MACC website, Facebook and YouTube pages.

The state winner will be announced at the end of the show. The state winner will go on to compete at regionals and possibly represent Hawaiʻi at the the nationals.


One of the national winners was Amanda Gorman who was invited to be a guest speaker at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. She recited the her poem “The Hill We Climb.”

Gorman was the first National Youth Poet Laureate selected by the Urban Word, a program that supports Youth Poet Laureates in more than 60 cities.

Hawaiʻi competitors, ranging in ages from 10 to 19, represent new voices rising out of the growing popularity of poetry slam competitions.


In the 2010s, poetry slams increased in popularity in Hawaiʻi.

Hundreds of young people attended slams from the quonset hut near Fresh Cafe in Honolulu to a bookstore and art gallery on Maui’s Market Street.

At the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Saturday, guests attending the statewide competition this weekend include the first Hawaiʻi Youth Poet Laureate Lua Bowman, former US Youth Poet Laureate Meera Dasgupta, and Urban Word executive director Michael Cirelli, the founder of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program.


Maui Arts education director Moira Pirsch said the idea behind the annual event was to first build a community of young poets and offer poetry workshops to youths.

Under the MACC’s youth poetry program, respected slam poets Travis Thompson, who has a Masters in Pacific Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi, and Ittai, a featured poet in HBO’s documentary “Brave New Voices,” have taught poetry classes at King Kekaulike High School, Maui High School, Lahainaluna High School, Haleakala Waldorf, and Kamehameha Middle School.
But in the COVID atmosphere, the plan transformed into developing statewide Zoom classes with youths on various islands.

For a weekly listing of Maui music and other events, go to Maui Entertainment, Arts, Community, April 27-May 4 and click here.


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