Sanderson is the first African American and spoken-word poet to hold the post

“Andrea’s work in the community is exemplary of the role of a poet laureate. She has changed our community for the better with her words, her commitment and her authenticity,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.


Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson officially will step into the role of Poet Laureate of San Antonio in a public investiture ceremony at 6 p.m. March 31 in the city council chambers.


The poet laureate’s charge is to promote and preserve the art form while celebrating the city’s history and culture.


“It is truly fulfilling a dream of mine to step into this honorable role and serve my city,” Sanderson said in a statement. “I admire and love all of the poets laureate that came before me and consider it a blessing to rise to the occasion and create initiatives that promote artistic expression celebrating the literary arts. I love San Antonio’s poetry community and look forward to contributing to its growth.”


At the age of six, Sanderson found a typewriter while visiting her aunt in Corpus Christi. Wanting to explore the possibilities, she decided to write her mother a love poem. That moment sparked an excitement and anticipation for sharing her words that never waned. While in seventh grade, her English teacher compared her work to Maya Angelou and encouraged her to check out books from the library. Andrea discovered words were her gift, her calling.


Soon after, at the age of thirteen, the untimely loss of a close friend inspired her to compose a poem for the memorial service. The appreciation of her friend’s family connected the feeling she’d put into words to the experiences of loss and pain in life. Through the recognition from her educators and peers, and discovery of other literary giants such as Robert Frost and Langston Hughes, she felt a life’s calling to etch her own mark in the vast world of literature.


Sanderson’s effort to create a safe space for youth in the artistic fold is nothing less than a lifesaving endeavor. She knows firsthand the struggle to find the perfect words to capture thoughts and emotions. Her work at the Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center for the last sixteen years has shown her the need for guidance through the complexity of the human experience. For her, poetry is about self-discovery and increasing personal understanding of the world.


“Andrea’s work in the community is exemplary of the role of a poet laureate. She has changed our community for the better with her words, her commitment and her authenticity,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have a dedicated individual like her embedded in our community, working with our youth and inspiring others with words.”


Sanderson released her first full-length album, She Tastes Like Music, in November of 2019 and a companion volume of poetry, She Lives in Music, this year. Sanderson was awarded the 2019 Artist Foundation of San Antonio People’s Choice Award among other previous awards with Project Forward, Dream Voice, and National Poetry Awards. Her written work has been published in literary magazines and anthologies such as the Texas Observer, the Raven Review Literary Magazine, and Pariahs, an anthology published by Stephen F. Austin University Press. Her spoken word and performances have been exhibited and performed in numerous festivals and independently curated shows throughout San Antonio. She serves as the co-founder and board member of Write Art Out and the founder and host of Jazz & Poetry with Purpose.


The San Antonio poet laureate position was created in 2012. Each poet serves for two years. Sanderson joins prior poets laureate Carmen Tafolla, Laurie Ann Guerrero, Jenny Browne, and Octavio Quintanilla.