Donte Collins is a Black, Queer American poet. Named the inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of Saint Paul, Minnesota, they are the recipient of the 2018 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Spoken Word administered by the Loft Literary Center and winner of the 2016 Most Promising Young Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets. They are the author of the poetry collection “Autopsy” (Button Poetry, 2017) a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. Collins is the recipient of the 2016 Mitchell Prize in Poetry from Augsburg University and are an alum of TruArtSpeaks, a non-profit arts organization based in the Twin Cities cultivating literacy, leadership and social justice through the study & application of Spoken Word and Hip Hop culture.
Cave Canem founder Toi Derricotte featured Donte in the Academy of American Poets, calling their work “sophisticated and emotionally mature”. Donte’s words cannot sit still and often embody theatrical recitations. Their work holds a knife to systems of oppression and dominant power structures. They wield poetry to collapse normativity and deliver work that is both alluring and challenging. Often centered around intersections of class, race, adoption, sexuality and social justice, Donte uses pause, rhythm, raw fierce emotion, and the marriage between archive and repertoire to reimagine how poetry can be accessible to those who believe the form is dead.
In poetry slam, they are a Rustbelt Finalist and have completed on three national poetry teams in the Twin Cities. In 2014 they coached their high school slam team and were awarded the SayWord championship by the Minnesota Spoken Word Association. They began performing poetry in elementary school and have since earned international recognition. Collins was born in Chicago heights and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota where they currently live.