|2022||Poet Laureate of Urbana, IL|
In 2022, Ashanti Files was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Files will expand the Writers of Oya program, which teaches the art of spoken word poetry to teenage girls struggling with trauma and provides a safe space for them to reflect on their struggles. Files will partner with local libraries to lead bimonthly workshops over a sixteen week period that will use poetry to open the hearts and minds of young women, facilitate dialogue about mental health, and empower the youth to speak their truth in their communities. After the workshops, Files will work on a book that features the work and provides insight into how local programs tailored for girls of color can decrease negative outcomes and how the art of spoken word poetry aids in mental wellness.