Nat’l Poetry Slam Champion, former TEDx speaker selected as Richmond’s 1st poet laureate

Nat’l Poetry Slam Champion, former TEDx speaker selected as Richmond’s 1st poet laureate
Douglas Powell /Roscoe Burnems (Source: RVA Poet Laureate)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The City of Richmond has selected its first poet laureate, a role that will develop projects and promote poetry in the city during a two-year term.

Douglas Powell, better known as Roscoe Burnems, has been selected for the role and says he can’t wait to get started.

“It is the diversity of the city and the adversities that we are able to overcome as a community that cultivate our resilience as people,” Burnems said. “This is the soil for change and progression to sprout and expand into a tree that blooms the fruit of our tenacity. We decide if that fruit is sweetened with peace or embittered with division.”

Burnems has volunteered at the St. Joseph’s Villa Alternative Education Program, University of Richmond’s Partners in the Arts, and ART 18. He also regularly leads poetry workshops at middle and high schools in Richmond. He is a National Poetry Slam Champion, a former TEDx speaker and the founder of the Writer’s Den Art Collective.

Burnems proposed interweaving poetry into public visual art projects, hosting youth-oriented spoken-word competitions, and partnering with the Richmond Public Library system to organize poetry workshops.

“The Richmond Poet Laureate should relish showing kids, teens and adults the healing, restorative power of the written word,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “Roscoe has exhibited time and again his interest in bringing poetry to the people, and his list of ideas for engagement projects tells me he’s the Richmonder for the job.”

The Richmond Poet Laureate made his public debut at the Poe Museum’s Birthday Bash, a virtual celebration of Edgar Allan Poe’s 212th birthday, on Jan. 16.

To learn more about Burnems and his work, visit this link. To learn more about Burnems and his role as poet laureate, click here.

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