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City of Dallas names its first-ever poet laureate and youth poet laureate to grow literacy awareness through culture

Joaquín Zihuatanejo is now the first poet laureate of the City of Dallas. Madison Rojas is the first youth poet laureate. Together, they will inspire future poets.

DALLAS — On Wednesday morning, two people were honored at Dallas City Hall for their poetry. 

Mayor Eric Johnson announced Joaquín Zihuatanejo as the city poet laureate. He spoke in front of city leaders and artists, and read a poem that he wrote inspired by his grandfather.

Zihuatanejo is the first City Poet Laureate in Dallas. 

Zihuatanejo was born and raised in East Dallas, and he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. 

Among many achievements, he became the number one ranked slam poet in the world after winning both the Individual World Poetry Slam Championship and the World Cup of Poetry Slam Championship in 2009. 

Zihuatanejo founded Dallas Youth Poets in 2012. He hopes as the city’s poet laureate, he can continue to inspire future poets. 

“One of the most intimidating things is a computer screen or a blank page. But once you type that first image, […] one line, then the poem will begin happening," he said. 

Zihuatanejo will serve a two-year term. He will represent the City of Dallas as an ambassador of the literary arts by presenting his original poems at schools and community events. His work encourages diversity in reading, writing and performance. 

If you would like to hear Zihuatanejo's poem click here

Zihuatanejo will hold regular artist-in-residence office hours at the Central Library.

Alongside Zihuatanejo, 17-year-old Madison Rojas was honored as the youth poet laureate for the City of Dallas. Together, they will encourage youth poetry. Rojas will hold her title for one year. 

Rojas is a junior at Greenhill School, and active in student council and diversity and inclusion. She said poetry will help her in whatever her career may be down the line. She has dreams of being a civil rights attorney.  

“Everything is just a reflection of your emotions and what you feel inside," she said. 

During the ceremony, Mayor Johnson declared April as Poetry Month in the City of Dallas. Visit www.dallaslibrary.org/poetry for more details on the Poet Laureate program. 

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