Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake introduced they city’s first youth poet laureate during her weekly news conference Wednesday.
Derick Ebert, a City College alum and English major at the University of Baltimore, won the honor at a competition at City Hall last February. He was among 12 candidates who showcased their verse at the competition sponsored by the mayor's office, Dew More Baltimore and the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Ebert cites writers Toni Morrison and James Baldwin as writers who influence him.
“How [Baldwin] ends with a lot of his writings, it just like leaves you in awe because [you] realized it’s content, but the ending is like it sums up like this is what I want you to take away,” he said.
The 19-year-old added he is also inspired by spoken word artists from California and Washington, D.C.; Pages Matam, Javon Johnson and Rudy Francisco.
Ebert and two runners-up split a $1,500 cash prize at the competition. In addition, Ebert will receive a national book deal and be featured in a city tour.
Rawlings-Blake said she is happy about the attention Ebert is receiving.
“I think far too often young people have such amazing talent and are so inspirational and nobody cares,” she said adding that if it was a fight at city hall involving young people the press briefing room would be packed. “[I’m] grateful that his story is going to be told and hopefully continue to be told.”
The aspiring English professor is hoping to use his new platform to inspire other young people.
“Every youth has a voice; it’s a tool and they need to learn how to use it because it’s important,” Ebert said.