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Brooklyn Public Library—in collaboration with Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang—has named Cyrée Jarelle Johnson as the Library’s first ever poet-in-residence.

Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang, photographed by Chris Taggart

A poet and writer, Johnson’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Boston Review, WUSSY, The Wanderer, Vice, Rewire News, The Root, and Nat. Brut among other publications. Slingshot, his first collection of poetry, was awarded the 2020 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry.

“We are proud to announce that Cyrée Jarelle Johnson has been chosen as the Brooklyn Public Library's inaugural Poet-in-Residence,” said Tina Chang, Brooklyn Poet Laureate. “His powerful intelligence, commitment to underrepresented communities, loyalty to teaching and research, and undeniable talent in the field of poetry demonstrates all that is possible now. As we embark on a complex year ahead, collaborating with Cyrée will bring compassion, innovation, and great humanity to the many diverse populations the Brooklyn Public Library serves.”

The newly established Poet-in-Residence programs offers time, socially distant space, resources, a stipend, and mentorship from Brooklyn’s Poet Laureate Tina Chang. The resident will work to enhance the Library’s current poetry collections and programs while supporting BPL's goal to amplify the voices of all Brooklyn writers in the service of positive change and social justice.

“A lot of my poetry education focused on individual poems of first books. I can't wait to explore what comes after that with Tina's guidance. I hope to make the most of mentorship by completing my second and third manuscripts tentatively entitled Psychedelica and Travesties respectively. I also look forward to planning events that bring disabled poetics to a wider audience, particularly in a city as inaccessible as New York,” said Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, BPL Poet-in-Residence.

Nearly 80 poets applied for the role. To be eligible, candidates had to demonstrate residency in Brooklyn and have not more than one published collection. Applicants were evaluated on originality, skill, vision, and commitment to literary civic engagement.

Johnson earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University with support from the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund. He will begin work this week. The term runs through May 2021.

The Poet in Residence is made possible by the Academy of American Poets with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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