United Arts Council

New Spoken Word Competition for High School Students


July 20, 2023


Raleigh, NC—The arts councils from Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties are excited to announce the first regional spoken word competition for high school students. This initiative is the concept of spoken word poet and the 2023 Piedmont Laureate Dasan Ahanu. To launch this program, Ahanu will give performances at four historically under-resourced schools in Wake County and will provide teachers in all three counties with a poetry study guide to utilize in the classroom.

Beginning September 1, 2023, students from public, private, and home schools in these three counties may submit a video of themselves performing their own original poetry. Videos must be under three minutes. Deadline to submit is October 27, 2023. All submissions will be juried by a panel of professional poets and spoken word artists.

Winners will be announced at a reception at the North Carolina Executive Mansion on December 12, 2023.

In addition to the Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission, Raleigh Arts, and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County who partner to present the Piedmont Laureate annually, the Raleigh Fine Arts Society has also come on board as a partner of this education initiative.

Dasan Ahanu is an artist, educator, scholar, and cultural organizer based in Durham, North Carolina. In addition to performing across the country, Ahanu has hosted or coordinated many poetry, jazz, and hip-hop events across the region. As a writing fellow with the Center for Community Change in Washington, DC, he wrote and published articles and essays about the economic struggles for families, students, and artists. His artistic work has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR), where he was noted for his appearances on News and Notes with Ed Gordon and State of Things with Frank Stasio. He has been showcased on NBC 17, featured on the third season of Lexus Verses and Flow aired on TV One, and in a documentary, Poet Son, presented on WUNC-TV as a part of the North Carolina Visions film series. Ahanu is passionate about mentoring young artists and bringing the artform of poetry and spoken word to the next generation.

The Piedmont Laureate program is dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing. Co-sponsored by United Arts, City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Durham Arts Council, and Orange County Arts Commission, the Piedmont Laureate program’s mission is to promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont region.



About United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County:

The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County is designated by the Wake County Commissioners and the North Carolina Arts Council as the official local arts agency for Wake County. As a private nonprofit, United Arts has worked for more than 30 years to build a better Raleigh and Wake County through the support of and advocacy for the arts. United Arts partners with businesses, individuals, foundations, and government to provide life-changing arts programming and support to our schools and community, resources and opportunities for artists, and arts integration training for teachers. Learn more at UnitedArts.org


Jul 15

WTF Town Hall

7:30 pm–9:00 pm

A series of weekly Town Hall forums curated by The National Women's Theatre Festival about, for, and with theatremakers.

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