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Philadelphia names its newest youth poet laureate

  • poet laureate photo
    Peter Crimmins/WHYY




The City of Philadelphia will officially announce its new youth poet laureate, but also announce that the poet laureate program will no longer be administered in City Hall.

The program has shifted from the city's Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy to the Free Library of Philadelphia.

First things first: The new Youth Poet Laureate will be Husnaa Hashim, a student at Mastery Shoemaker charter school, who is spending her senior year taking advanced classes at the Community College of Philadelphia.

The selection committee chose her because of the strength of her poetry and her unique voice: Her grandmother was a Black Panther, and her mother grew up in Iran. Hashim is Muslim, wears a hijab, speaks Farsi, and is active in Philadelphia's performance poetry slams.

"She was a finalist last year. The committee has always been moved by her work," said committee chair Beth Feldman Brandt. "Her writing is strong and brings a point of view of a Muslim woman, out in the world, to her writing. It's an important voice to have out in the world right now."

Much of her work is about the elements that make her identity, including the challenges of embodying them all:

The longer I allow the sadness to sink in
The more I lose myself
The more I become it
The problem is that I never thought I would have to stay in this body for an entire lifetime
I do not want to waste this lifetime

"I want for black, Muslim girls in Philadelphia to say, 'There's a hijabi girl doing that. I can do that, too,'" said Hashim. "And not be hesitant to reach for opportunities."

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks


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