Texas Fellows named are Leslie Contreras Schwartz and Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson
The Academy of American Poets has named twenty-three individuals as its 2021 Poets Laureate Fellows. The individuals named serve as Poets Laureate of states and cities across the U. S. These poets will lead public poetry programs in their respective communities for the coming year.
Two Texas authors have been named as Fellows:
Leslie Contreras Schwartz is the Houston Poet Laureate, and her fourth book, Black Dove / Paloma Negra (FlowerSong Press, 2020) was named a finalist for the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for 2020 Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. She teaches in the creative writing program at Alma College’s low-residency MFA program. Contreras Schwartz will develop Bayou City Broadsides, a community outreach project that aims to share the art and love of poetry with non-traditional and/or underserved audiences. In coordination with the Houston Public Library, she will conduct poetry workshops with and publish the work of both youth and adults in the community. The poems will be displayed around the city, as well as virtually. Contreras Schwartz will also provide mentorship for the Houston Youth Poet Laureate.
Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson is an award-winning spoken word artist and San Antonio native who works as a Teaching Artist for Gemini Ink and as an artist-in-residence at the Carver Community Cultural Center. Her debut book is entitled She Lives In Music (FlowerSong Press, 2020). She is the first black Poet Laureate of San Antonio. In collaboration with the Carver Community Cultural Center, Sanderson will launch The Echo Project, which will introduce young artists to their community through an oral history project, creative workshops, collaborations with local audio and visual artists, and live performances. The project will connect the young artists with other community members, including elders, historians, leaders, Veteran artists, activists, and educators, with the aim of providing the young artists with perspective, background, and inspiration to create art that speaks directly to their identity and uses the power of storytelling.
In 2020, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the Academy $4.5 million to fund the Poets Laureate Fellowship program. Through the program, the Academy is now the nation’s largest financial supporter of poets.
The Fellows will each receive $50,000 for a combined total of $1.1 million. In addition, the Academy will provide $100,000+ total to 14 local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that have agreed to support the Fellows’ proposed projects.