In celebration of National Poetry Month, Mayor Sylvester Turner is pleased to announce the new Houston Poet Laureate, Aris Kian Brown.
The selection of Aris was announced last night at a reception hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) and the Houston Public Library (HPL) with remarks by Mayor Turner, Dr. Lawson, Dr. Irvin, and the 2021-23 Houston Poet Laureate, Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean.
“It is an honor to have selected Aris as the next Poet Laureate,” says Mayor Sylvester Turner. “She represents Houston’s literary future with her prophetic poetry. She will continue the Poet Laureates’ hard work before her, inspire the City of Houston with her words, and bring out the poetry in everyone. My heart is gladdened to see the Houston Poet Laureate program continue to thrive and become a part of my legacy as Mayor of this Arts City.”
Brown, who is the sixth poet laureate and the youngest to be chosen said, “Poetry, language, and building narrative power are all my life’s work. As the next Poet Laureate, I am looking forward to being able to share my love for both community organizing and creative expression.”
Brown was selected through a competitive process by a diverse group of poets, scholars, literary experts, and community representatives. The Committee consisted of Poet Laureate Emeritus, Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean; Elizabeth Gregory of the University of Houston; Terri Hamm of Kindred Stories; Rich Levy of Inprint; Eloísa Pérez-Lozano of The Acentos Review; and César Ramos of Raspa Magazine. Non-voting members include Victor Ancheta of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) and Justin Bogert with the Houston Public Library (HPL).
“I am so pleased to join our Mayor and Cultural Affairs Director, Necole Irvin, in congratulating Aris Kian Brown,” said Houston Public Library Director, Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson. “We are excited to support Ms. Brown in engaging Houston’s diverse communities served by Houston Public Library through the exciting Poet Laureate program.”
As Poet Laureate, she will work closely with MOCA and HPL to implement her Community Outreach Project, “Space for Us: Afrofuturism and the Poetic Imagination.”
Aris’ two-year term runs through April 2025, during that time she will conduct a series of interviews with community members across Houston asking them questions like, “What do you hope Houston looks like tomorrow?” and then “stitch” a poem utilizing those answers, allowing everyone to see the poetry that is “already embedded in everyday people.” Brown will also translate the finished poem into the top spoken languages in the city.
Necole S. Irvin, Director of Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, is excited about Brown’s community project. “Aris will create a unique project that will speak to all residents of Houston which aligns with our office’s goal of equity, inclusion, and accessibility to the arts for all. The project is one that complements the goals of the Houston Poet Laureate program as well, which is to make poetry accessible to everyone.”