This has been a season for the young. Stories now abound of teenagers and young adults making headway, sometimes blazing the trail, in their chosen field of endeavour as is the case with Patricia Frazier.
Patricia Frazier is a poet and was recently adjudged a National Youth Laureate. This in itself is a mean feat made all the more remarkable when you find out the 19-year-old is Chicago’s first.
The second-year student of Columbia College, Chicago, according to the judges of the National Youth Poet Laureate honour, wrote “phenomenal” poetry.
The National Youth Laureate was founded in 2008 by Urban Word in partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office and NYC Votes.
“Patricia’s poetry is really phenomenal,” Michael Cirelli, Executive Director of Urban Word, said. “The judges were impressed with the quality of her craft, but they also considered her commitment to social justice and youth development.”
Frazier credits her surroundings and happenings as the inspirations for her writings. According to her, she draws inspiration from her environment.
Speaking to Chicago Magazine about her poetry, she said:
When I first started writing poetry, I was writing about stuff that I witnessed right outside my front door: my story with gentrification, living in Bronzeville, being pushed out when my projects were torn down, and then moving to Englewood and seeing how the culture there contradicted things that were said about Englewood in the news and on TV. Now, my poetry has navigated towards talking more about the people in my neighborhood and telling their stories—the plight of black women, racism, and what it’s like to be a queer young person in a homophobic family.
Frazier’s debut book, Graphite, is an ode to her grandmother and tells of loss and rebirth. It also looks deeper into the how African-Americans have to survive a system that was built to keep them down.