Two Texas poets receive $50,000 Poet Laureate Fellowships


Two Texas-based poets are among the 22 who have received $50,000 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets.

Emanuelee Outspoken Bean, 2021-2023 Poet Laureate of Houston, and Cyrus Cassells, 2021-2022 Poet Laureate of Texas will each receive $50,000. The funds will support public poetry programs proposed by each poet

Emanuelee Outspoken Bean was born in New Jersey and raised in San Antonio, Texas. He was the first poet to perform on Houston Ballet’s main stage in the production “Play” and created and produced his own festival, Plus Fest: The Everything Plus Poetry Festival.

Bean will compile Space City Mixtape, a 20+ track spoken-word and creative audio experience of Houston from Houstonians telling their stories. He will also facilitate bi-weekly writing sessions for six to eight months through the Houston Public Library system to serve Houston’s diverse populations. The first year will be dedicated to collecting stories and voices from the workshops and the second year will focus on recording the writers. The album will be produced by local music producer and frequent collaborator Russell Guess. The tentative release date of the album is May 2023.

The author of nine poetry collections, Cyrus Cassells is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim, the Lannan Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Austin and teaches at Texas State University.

Related: Channeling the chaos: Cyrus Cassells’ ‘The World That the Shooter Left Us’

In honor of Juneteenth, Cassells will hold a poetry contest for students in grades six through twelve across the state that encourages them to explore what makes the day significant. Final judges will be Texas poets Wendy Barker, Jennifer Chang, Amanda Johnston, and Roger Reeves, as well as Texas historian Martha Hartzog.

The contest will end with a public reading and ceremony at the Neill-Cochran House Museum in Austin, which has fostered several African American events and cultural exhibitions and features the city of Austin’s only intact slave cabin. The ten winning students will receive travel stipends to the Austin ceremony. The judges, screeners, top three winners, and seven honorable mentions will each receive an honorarium, plus copies of Pulitzer Prize winner Annette Reed’s book “On Juneteenth” and Edward Cotham Jr.’s “Juneteenth: The Story Behind the Celebration.”

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