The city of St. Paul has been quietly been making the world safe for poetry for a long time. It has its own poet laureate – Carol Connolly, who hosts monthly readings by other writers. It has poetry embedded in sidewalks all over town, through Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, part of Public Art St. Paul. It is home to the St. Paul Almanac, a fat annual volume that publishes poetry, essays and photography by Minnesotans and does other things, too -- such as puts poetry in light rain trains and on buses.
And now, ta da! It has its own youth poet laureate.
Donte Collins, honored last fall by the Academy of American Poets as the “most promising young poet” won a recent poetry slam (may 19) in which he competed against nine other finalists at the Black Dog Café in St. Paul’s Lowertown. He is, he said, “beyond grateful” for the win.
Collins, 20, lives in St. Paul, studies at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, edits a journal and is active in the spoken-word poetry scene.
In his new role, Collins will host readings, slams and other events throughout the year and will also be mentored by St. Paul poet Danez Smith (whose collection of poetry is forthcoming in September from Graywolf Press, which, while no longer a St. Paul publisher, once was).
The St. Paul Youth Poet Laureate is through the arts organization TruArtSpeaks, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.