Donte Collins is a poet. Named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Saint Paul, Minnesota, they are the author of “Autopsy” (Button Poetry, 2017) and winner of the 2016 Most Promising Young Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets. Collins is the recipient of the 2016 Mitchell Prize in Poetry and is currently a junior at Augsburg College. They are an alum of TruArtSpeaks, a non-profit arts organization based out of the Twin Cities cultivating literacy, leadership and social justice through the study & application of Hip Hop culture.
Their work has been published and featured widely in Afro-Punk, the Star Tribune, Feminist Culture, Minnesota Public Radio, The Artidote, The Academy of American Poets, TPT and more. Collins is a two-time participant of the international youth poetry festival Brave New Voices and has performed at colleges and universities around the country, including St. Olaf, University of Minnesota, University of Indiana, Macalester, University of Chicago, Hamline, and more. They edit for Button Poetry, the largest distributor of spoken word poetry in the world.
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. Donte was born in Chicago heights and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota where they currently live.