Literature

Up Close With Houston’s First-Ever Youth Poet Laureate

Andrew White talks about his life, his experiences, and his vision for the new position.

Andrew White and Robin Davidson
Houston Poet Laureate Robin Davidson with Andrew White, a senior at HSPVA. White is Houston’s first Youth Poet Laureate.

One morning in September, Andrew White’s mother was listening to the radio on her way to work and heard the announcement that Houston was looking for its first Youth Poet Laureate. She encouraged her son to apply. As it turns out, so did some of his teachers at The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

On Thursday, the creative writing senior was named Houston’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, chosen out of a pool of 45 applicants. Despite just receiving an impressive title, the 18-year-old native Houstonian is an incredibly humble guy. But he also knows what he’s good at.

“I’ve been creating my own stories and trying to write them down ever since I was six or seven,” White says. “And then I started actually writing my own poetry when I was about twelve or thirteen.”

Houston Youth Poet Laureate Andrew White
Houston Youth Poet Laureate Andrew White

Right now, White’s interest is writing contemporary poems that serve as imitation pieces of classics.

“So maybe I’ll do a Wallace Stevens, or I’ll do an imitation piece of a Roger Reeves poem,” he says. “But mostly for my subjects, I try to cover family relationships or relationships with friends.”

White hasn’t decided on a college yet, but has his eyes on a couple that offer strong programs in dramatic writing.

He has several priorities for carrying out his vision as Youth Poet Laureate, all centered around exposing more people of his generation to poetry and spoken word.

“That’s one of my main missions… trying to get more activities or programs for teenagers to get into their poetic communities within Houston,” he says. “I do want to have teenagers say, ‘Oh, it’s Friday night. Orbit Slam is going on. We should go check that out.’ Instead of, ‘Oh we should just stay at home and watch Netflix.’”

The inaugural position is an initiative of Writers in the Schools and will include a book deal with Penmanship Books.

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