BROCKTON — Two weeks before her induction ceremony as Brockton’s first-ever Poet Laureate, Ayanna Blake’s father has died.
On Saturday, with family and friends filling the basement of the East Side Brockton Library, Blake was inducted as first young poet laureate.
“I feel so loved,” she said after the ceremony. “I feel like he was there”
Blake recited two original poems – both of which she submitted to be considered for the position in April – in front of a crowd of at least 40 residents, all of whom were visibly moved by Blake’s moving and impassioned speech.
Blake, along with other attendees, couldn’t hold back tears as she thanked her late father for his constant support.
“Thank you to my father who supported me with poetry from the moment he heard me read, who cried and told me I was beautiful, who taught me that my goal was to be strong,” she said.
Her poem ‘What Brockton Means to Me’, which helped her secure the position over runner-up Hannah Baptiste, shares her experience moving to Brockton as a high school student – the first time she was surrounded by peers who resembled, from “golden chains” and “cool kicks” to “durags”.
In mid-May, four judges — Mark Walsh, Kate DiMarca, Sawsan Zahara and Tim Trask — selected Blake for the role. Since then, she has performed at Brockton’s first June 19 celebration and recited her original poem, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” during the city’s Black History Month celebration.
General Counsel Winthrop Farwell and State Senator Michael Brady presented Blake, a rising senior at Brockton High School, with official statements of the new position. Running Phil Hasouris, Poet Laureate of Brockton, who first published his work in 1998, proposed to the City Council the idea of creating the positions of Poet Laureate and Young Poet Laureate. He became the city’s first Poet Laureate in 2021.
“I’m so happy for Brockton. Now we have a voice for our young people,” Hasouris said.
The town held a competition to find the first Young Poet Laureate, and the six contestants each submitted two original poems – one to be about the town of Brockton. Blake was announced the winner at the selection ceremony in May.
“Brockton is a beautiful place, and there’s so much going on here…kids can do amazing things if you give them space. And the kids will be teenagers, growing into adults,” he said. she said in her induction speech on Saturday.
Blake, wearing a long white dress with red and yellow patches, said she was unaware her entire family was attending her induction ceremony on Saturday. It was an emotional morning for Blake, as she hugged everyone in attendance after the ceremony.
Chris Butler, Enterprise Personnel Reporter, can be reached by email at [email protected]enterprisenews.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chr1sButler. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.