Yonkers Resident Phylisha Villanueva Named Westchester County’s Poet Laureate

Yonkers resident Phylisha Villanueva will be Westchester County‘s new Poet Laureate.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer and ArtsWestchester announced Villanueva’s three-year appointment today after reviewing 14 candidates. Villanueva will succeed poet B.K. Fischer this month and she will receive a $10K honorarium each year of her term from Westchester County.

County Executive George Latimer said, “There is tremendous literary talent in Westchester and tremendous interest in poetry from people of all ages. The role of the Poet Laureate is to bring poetry to people and people to poetry and the County looks forward to working with Phylisha and ArtsWestchester to do just that over the next three years.”

ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam explained, “A lifelong lover of poetry and committed advocate for community arts development and poetry, Phylisha is a passionate artist interested in helping young people find their voices and express themselves through the written and spoken word.”

Villanueva is a Belizean-American poet, author, and cultural activist. She is a teaching artist for ArtsWestchester, a member of the Jazz and Poetry Choir Collective, and Tesoro, an international women’s poet collective. Villanueva’s written work focuses on identity, colorism, inherited trauma, resilience, women’s empowerment, black culture, and mysticism.

The Westchester Poet Laureate Program embraces both written and spoken poetic traditions and seeks to promote poetry as a medium that defies boundaries and categories, serves as a platform for underrepresented voices, and offers a space for personal reflection and healing.

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