Harmony Devoe, a ninth grader from Harwood Union High School, is Vermont' first Youth Poet Laureate. Photo: Photo Credit:  Tina Picz / tinapicz.com

The Valley Reporter and Waterbury Roundabout reached out to Vermont’s newly-named Youth Poet Laureate Harwood Union ninth grader Harmony Devoe to find out what makes her tick and why she writes.





VR/WR: When did you start writing poetry and why?

HD: I started writing poetry as soon as I was able to write sentences, as any words spoken or written with deep feelings and arranged as the speaker would want them to be heard beautifully as poetry, which many, including my younger self, don’t completely realize. I started consciously writing poetry when I was in second grade. My mom is a poet and advocate for equity and the environment and exposed me to many forms of writing early on. My dad is an advocate for the environment. My parents fostered my reading skills, taught me about the world around me and the society in which I live, and never told me that achievements or a profession in writing were unrealistic. I started writing when my teacher introduced a poetry unit, and we were told to write about our observations of a dogwood tree. I continued to write about everything I found wonderful in the world. I soon found there is much that is not always so lovely that needs to be highlighted as well, so I began to write about equity for the people and the planet.  Poetry can spark revolution. After all, words are the beginning of every action. I truly believe the pen is mightier than the sword. 

VR/WR: What inspires and informs your work?

HD: A multitude of things inspire and inform my work, including my desire for peace, the need for justice and equity for children and marginalized, underserved communities, my want for people to care about others and the planet, the climate crisis, the news, family discussions, being in nature, witnessing harmful events, feeling like I should leave the world in a well-functioning state, injustice, beauty, and imperfection. Many aspects of living inspire my poetry, such as the textures of life, glints of sunlight or a tree’s shadow that remind me of an aspect of society, or a sentence spoken in passing that I feel is an analogy for our corrupt systems. I think my open mindedness comes from living in five different states and meeting many kinds of people, and my love for learning and writing come from my upbringing and early education. News of banned books has informed my poetry as well.

VR/WR: What does being named Vermont Youth Poet Laureate mean to you?

HD: Being named as Vermont’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate means, to me, that I have the opportunity to serve the community, share my words and messages more widely, invite more people into my life and into writing, and to expose others to writing and global issues. 

VR/WR: Besides poetry, tell us a little bit about your other interests: VT Youth Council, Firefolk Arts, other Harwood organizations?

HD: In addition to poetry, I enjoy advocating for causes I care about, like on the Vermont State Youth Council (which has a public hearing on May 17 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel from 3:30 to 6 p.m.). I also enjoy creating spaces for people, especially marginalized/underserved communities, to feel safe, connected, and joyful, which I do as the youth event co-producer at Firefolk Arts in Waitsfield. I also love to cross-country run, act, sing, bake, read, public speak, clean the environment, report, follow policy, watercolor paint, and drink tea. I love to feel connected with others and feel like we are working toward a goal of actionable positive change, which I do in clubs at Harwood, like Students’ Alliance for Racial Justice, Youth Lobby, Resettled Outreach Club, and more.  I have been planning the annual Race Against Racism, on May 25 in Montpelier from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.




VR/WR: What are your goals with poetry and writing?

HD: I plan to publish multiple books, publish a book collaborating with my mom, and inspire people to take action based on the emotions my poetry evokes. 

VR/WR: Do you like to read poetry? Do you have a favorite poet whose writing you like to read most? 

HD: I don’t necessarily like to read poetry, because I believe poetry is meant to be heard; to enter the ears, hit the heart, and remain in the mind. I love to listen to poetry. I really enjoy listening to poems by Richard Williams (better known as Prince Ea), because he speaks about deeply important issues, in an eloquent, rhythmic way. His poetry wrenches emotion and action out of me. 

VR/WR: What would you say to someone who says writing a poem is hard? 

HD: To someone who says writing a poem is hard, I would tell them that they have been writing poetry all their life. They have been living in poetry, because the earth and humanity are poetic. Poetry and writing are the inside of the world. If someone wants to deliberately write a poem, they must allow themselves to feel something strong. Many aspects of the world can inspire deep emotions, like conversations, news, landscapes, music; truly anything can cause a valid feeling in a human. Once they have an emotion, they can find thoughts that attach to this emotion, and figure out what messages and words evoke these feelings and thoughts. When writing, it can help to try and find ways to make the person listening or reading the poem (if the writer chooses to share their art) feel the way the writer does. But, when the poem actually has an audience, everyone will interpret the poem however it best fits their state of mind or heart. It may seem like a lot, but truly, if they just let their thoughts and knowledge and emotions out of the cage of their mind and onto a page, they have poetry. Chances are, if the writer feels something or finds something to be important, someone else will too. 

VR/WR: What do you think you might like to do after high school? 

HD: After I graduate from high school, I would like to continue my education with a focus on writing and/or law. I would like to travel the world for speaking engagements that inspire positive change. I want to improve the world through actionable, educational, legal, and physical solutions. I am interested in teaching English in various countries to learn more about the world while sharing the beauty and power of language. I would like to help create a sense of belonging for marginalized identities and instill in youth a feeling of responsibility to be respectful, kind, humane citizens. I would like to be a published author and professional public speaker. 


By Harmony Belle Devoe

The past can’t be changed 

But the future can be rearranged


If we work and try in the present today,

If we learn and teach and reach and grow

And give and love and burn and sow

These seeds of hope and faith and hurt

The hope we’re kind enough

To share Earth’s dirt


The faith in humanity despite the disparities 

The hurt that we’ve faced

Today won’t go to waste


If we make it worthwhile

And don’t see Earth in numbers

Counting each dollar per square mile

If we share and care,

Show we’re aware

And woke


Then possibly, 

All the words that we spoke

The backs that have ached

Carrying too much weight

The hearts that have scraped

On the floor of supremacy 

The tale of democracy 

The remedy for memories

Lost in years of shame and secrecy

The begging for clemency

The talent of tenacity

Won’t go to waste


And as Malcolm X said, 


Is always based on land


Is never based on begging somebody

For an integrated cup of coffee.


  Photo Credit: Tina Picz / tinapicz.com