‘I can’t wait to get started,’ Roscoe Burnem chosen to be Richmond’s first poet laureate


Poet, published author, spoken-word artist, comedian and teacher Roscoe Burnems has been selected to be Richmond’s first poet laureate.

The city sent out a release on Wednesday commended Burnems for his work and the time he spends volunteering with local arts organizations.

“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.”

He has worked with St. Joseph’s Villa Alternative Education Program, University of Richmond’s Partners in the Arts, ART 180 and local schools. Burnems regularly holds poetry workshops for middle and high school students.

His accolades include being a National Poetry Slam Champion, a former TEDx speaker and founder of the Writer’s Den Art Collective.

“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.”

As poet laureate, Burnems hopes to propose working poetry into public art projects, hosting spoken-word events for kids to participate in and holding accessible workshops through the Richmond Public Library system.

“I can’t wait to get started,” Burnems said.

To hear Burnems talk more about his new position, you can watch him at the virtual Poe Museum’s Birthday Bash on Jan. 16.


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