Thursday, April 18, 2024

Amanda Gorman recites “The Hill We Climb” during the Jan. 20 Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff via Flickr)

An Amanda Gorman-inspired “Future Leaders Read: A Teen & Youth Poetry Reading” is planned for Saturday at Starlight Square, with headliner Lizzle4 and plenty of open mic time for youth who want to share.

It is the fourth event of The Cambridge Poetry MashUp, founded by Cambridge poet populist emeritus Toni Bee. The previous three were in April as a celebration of National Poetry Month: a KickOff; a Toni Morrison workshop with the New England Poetry Club; and Poets In The Garden 2, which took place in a local community garden and focused on food justice for Black folks and people of color.

Bee said was encouraged to go through with hosting the MashUp after seeing Gorman recite at the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris – becoming, as a 23-year-old Harvard grad, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. “I am sure the kids saw or heard Gorman share her poetry with the world, and I hope it inspires them to share their literary talent too,” Bee said.

“Young folks deserve an outlet to share the creativity that has been brewing throughout the health and racial pandemics,” Bee said.

Performers 17 and under must get a parent’s permission to perform at the in-person event.

Lizzle4 is Elon Fyfield, a rap artist who has released two full-length hip-hop albums and a Black Matters clothing line as “a positive response to all the negative things happening in the world.” Fyfield, an educator and volleyball coach, grew up in Cambridge and returned after college to teach at his old middle school, The Fletcher Maynard Academy.

Bee first held “poetry mashups” in 2011 at The Middle East restaurant and nightclub during her term as poet populist. She has curated open mic Poetry in the Park events at Squirrel Brand Park for more than 10 years.

“Future Leaders Read: A Teen & Youth Poetry Reading” is free and open to the public from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Starlight Square, 84 Bishop Allen Drive, Central Square. All who attend Starlight Square must wear masks and observe social distancing rules.