The Richmond Arts & Culture Commission (RAAC) has selected David Flores to serve as poet laureate for the city over the 2021-2023 term. Sheila McKinney has been named youth poet laureate for the same term, according to RAAC.
Flores is a poetry teacher and lead trainer at the Mindful Life Project, a Richmond-based organization that brings mindfulness training and tools to schools. He has “organized poetry slams and traveled with his students to two poetry slam competitions,” according to RAAC.
He’ll host several more events in the city during his two-year term as poet laureate, including an open mic night at CoBiz Richmond co-working space and business incubator at 1503 Macdonald Ave. this Friday, Nov. 19. The evening event features fellow poet laureates Jeremy Snyder (Vallejo), Eevelyn Mitchell (El Cerrito), Tongo Eisen-Martin (San Francisco), and Ayodele Nzinga (Oakland).
McKinney is a student at Pinole Valley High, where she participates in the debate team, the African American Student Union, and WISE (Women in STEM Education), according to RAAC. McKinney has co-facilitated several poetry events this year, including a spoken word workshop for classroom teachers as a part of ARTS NOW, an Ancestors Veneration Workshop at Lick Wilmerding High School in San Francisco and a poetry workshop for the Music & Youth Alliance. She planned and hosted an open mic called Youth Power: In the Time of Covid in May and will host additional events during her term.
This is the 10th year Richmond has named a poet laureate, and the first it has named a youth poet laureate, according to RAAC.
The poet laureate program aims to promote appreciation for poetry, writing, and the creative process to the people of Richmond through public poetry, open mic events and programs in participating schools and organizations.
“The poet laureate will also present poetry throughout the year at community events, work with Richmond youth to teach and create poetry, and act as the spokesperson for the poetry community in Richmond,” according to RAAC.