Atlanta Word Works, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing writing and spoken word poetry to young people in Atlanta, recently named Kenneth Buckner, an outstanding 2015 graduate of the city’s Holy Innocents high school, as its first Youth Poet Laureate. Buckner is now a first-year student at Syracuse University, with a dual major at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. He is also a Posse Foundation Scholar.

With an interest in writing poetry and a dual major in the Whitman School and the iSchool, you seem to have some pretty wide-ranging interests. How did you develop interests that are so far apart?

When I was in high school and middle school, I enjoyed trying new things.  As a Whitman/iSchool dual major, one could see that I’m a very analytical type of person. I’ve always wanted to expand my horizons and creative writing and poetry is a way of doing that for me.

How does it feel to be the very first Atlanta Youth Poet Laureate? Are there responsibilities that come along with the title? How about perks?

I’m very honored to be the first Atlanta Youth Poet Laureate. I could have never seen this happening, especially since I haven’t been writing and performing for that long of a time. As the laureate, I do receive a book deal, which I find amazing. Also, I might have a few performances during the summer when I come home from college.

Atlanta is very different from Syracuse. How are you settling into Syracuse so far? What are your favorite and least favorite things?

The weather as of now hasn’t been too different from Atlanta yet. Once the fall begins coming, dealing with the weather might be difficult at first, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. The campus is beautiful, there is so much opportunity to do things on campus. Most of my classes are very enjoyable. When it comes to least favorite things, I can’t really think of any at this point in time.

In high school, you did quite a bit of community service. Any idea what you might be interested in getting involved in at Syracuse?

I have shown interest in Project G.R.I.N.D. [Greatness Resides In Non-Stop Dedication, a mentorship program that features developmental workshops on time management, leadership, teamwork and other topics for the Westside Academy in Syracuse] when it comes to doing some community service on campus. The mentoring program has a similar aspect to the program Horizons Atlanta, which I have volunteered with for the past three summers. 

How did you get involved with the Posse program?

I heard of Posse because I knew a few students from my high school who also received the scholarship. I applied for Syracuse University and received the scholarship. Since then, I’ve grown close with not only the nine other people from my posse, but also some of the other posses that are here on campus. I couldn’t imagine coming so far from home without knowing anyone ahead of time. Posse has given me a family away from my family.