Said Burnems of his new post,
“I can’t wait to get started.”
The City of Richmond has chosen its first poet laureate, Douglas Powell, known in the community by his stage name, Roscoe Burnems. Burnems is a poet, published author, spoken-word artist, comedian and teacher. He is a highly respected as an expert and professional, Roscoe has lent his talents to multiple organizations in Richmond including St. Joseph’s Villa Alternative Education Program, University of Richmond’s Partner in The Arts, ART 180, and has taught workshops at multiple middle & high schools. As coach, Roscoe has led the Richmond poetry slam team and the VCU slam team to regional and national final stages. He has hosted both The Writer’s Den monthly slam and co-hosted Tuesday Verses, one of the oldest black owned open mics in the south.
Evidence of an interest in and capacity for community engagement was part of the poet laureate selection criteria and a top priority of the mayor’s. “The Richmond Poet Laureate should relish showing kids, teens and adults the healing, restorative power of the written word,” said Mayor 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.”
Roscoe believes that poetry has been his “lifesaving medium.” “I write poetry to create challenging conversations and broaden perspectives. Whether the topic is race, religion, or mental health, my work is dedicated to educating, uplifting humanity, and breaking down the walls that divide us as a community.”
Read Burnem’s poem, “Lycanthropy.”
“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,” said Burnems. “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.”
To learn more about Roscoe Burnems, click here.
To read the complete press release, click here.