Porsha Olayiwola. Photo/Tatiana M.R. Johnson
Olayiwola, whose most recent project, a choreopoem entitled Black & Ugly As Ever, explores what it means to truly make space for oneself, will begin her poet laureate duties on January 1.
Emerson College boasts a number of Boston Poet Laureates. The current poet to hold the title is Danielle Legros Georges ’86, LHD ’16, and the first Poet Laureate was former Emerson professor Sam Cornish. Cornish died earlier this year.
According to the City of Boston website, the Poet Laureate serves for a four-year term, and is charged with advocating for poetry, language, and the arts. “The mission for the laureateship is to raise the status of poetry in the everyday consciousness of Bostonians,” the site says.
In addition, she is expected to participate in civic events, act as literary ambassador to the City, and enhance poetry programs in Boston Public Schools and Libraries. As Poet Laureate, Olayiwola also will serve as a juror for the annual Mayor’s Poetry Program at City Hall, participate in National Poetry Month each April, and act as a resource for the City of Boston’s Youth Poet Laureate.
Olayiwola is artistic director at MassLEAP, a literary non-profit organization serving youth artists. She is the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion. She co-founded The House Slam, Boston first poetry slam venue, and coaches their award-winning poetry slam team. In 2018, she was named by GK100 as one of Boston Most Influential People of Color.
This fall, Olayiwola talked to the Emerson Grad Life Blog about Black & Ugly As Ever and her experience at Emerson College.