April 14, 2023 -- In celebration of National Poetry Month, Mayor Sylvester Turner is pleased to announce the new Houston Poet Laureate: Aris Kian Brown. Brown is the sixth poet laureate and the youngest to be chosen.
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.”
"Poetry, language, and building narrative power are all my life's work,” says Aris Kian Brown. “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.”
Aris’ two-year term runs through April 2025. 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.” Brown 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.”
About Aris Kian Brown
Aris Kian is a Houston enthusiast and student of abolitionists. Her poems are published with Button Poetry, West Branch, Obsidian Lit, The West Review, and elsewhere. She is a 2019 Pushcart nominee, 2020 Best of the Net finalist, a 2021 Crystal Wilkinson Creative Writing Prize finalist, and a 2022 New Voices Contest finalist with Frontier Poetry. Kian is the 2022 recipient of the Inprint Marion Barthelme Prize in Creative Writing for Students with Service to the Houston Literary Community and ranks #2 in the 2023 Womxn of the World Poetry Slam. As an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellow, she received her MFA from the University of Houston and currently serves as the Narrative Change & Media Manager at Houston in Action. She engages with the socio-mythological landscape of our metropolitan city in her poems and hates taking 610 West Loop.
About the Houston Poet Laureate Program
The City of Houston Poet Laureate Program celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a poet who represents Houston by creating excitement about the written and spoken word as well as outreach activities, special programs, teaching, and individual works. The role of the Houston Poet Laureate is to stimulate poetic impulse, foster appreciation of poetry in all its forms, and serve Houston residents and visitors with expressions of culture through words.
About the Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.
For further information, visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org, on Twitter and Facebook @houstonlibrary, or call 832-393-1313.
About the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs guides the City’s cultural investments with policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors, and leverage private investment. Learn more at www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs and follow us on Facebook & Instagram @HoustonMOCA.