Edmonton’s new youth poet laureate has been writing his whole life, though the 19-year-old polymath has diverse interests ranging from tap dancing to social advocacy to university-level physics studies.
“I eventually want to go into medicine and be a pediatric surgeon,” Grayson Thate said.
“I found physics a lot more interesting than biology when I was going into university so I chose that as my major. I recently switched my minor to English just so I could incorporate writing and everything into my studies a bit more. It’s interesting to see how physics and the science side of academics affect my writing. There’s not a lot of overlap but it happens a lot when I’m not trying to do it. Learning about theories leads to a lot of interesting writing.”
The Victoria Composite graduate and YouthWrite alumnus was announced to the poet laureate position back in November by the City of Edmonton Youth Council. At the time, the CEYC validated their choice by explaining how Thate’s art is “largely influenced by the sociopolitical climate and his experiences as a queer artist.” He is fast becoming a vocal advocate and educator for metropolitan Edmonton’s LGBTQ+ communities.
“I’m most excited to be someone to represent other queer youth in the city. That was definitely something that I didn’t see a lot of when I was in high school and trying to find my place in the writing community.”
He added that he thinks the poetic position is important because it offers a mentor and a beacon for other youths to rely on for their own self-expressions. Finding one’s identity and using one’s voice are two important facets of his own work and the work that he hopes to inspire others to achieve themselves.
The Youth Poet Laureate position means that Thate will do live poetry readings at public events, including offering a performance of original poetry at Youth Council and City Council meetings and creating a poetry project to engage with youths and encourage them to work on their own art and get on stage themselves. He also hopes to provide some poetry workshops at festivals during his term.
He wants to encourage youths to explore their identities through writing, and to engage in open dialogue about the issues faced by marginalized people.
“Youth have so many valuable ideas, and I can’t think of a better way to communicate these ideas than through writing,” he said. “Youth deserve to have spaces for their voices to be heard, and since the Youth Poet Laureate position was created, engagement and involvement of youth in Edmonton’s writing community has significantly increased.”
For his talent and dedication to his craft, Thate was awarded the Loic Cremer Creative Writing Scholarship during his graduating year from Vic Comp.
He takes over from 2017 youth poet laureate Nasra Adem. The position is jointly sponsored by the CEYC, the City of Edmonton, and the Edmonton Poetry Festival.
For more information, people can visit www.ceyc.ca.