Roscoe Burnems, also known as Douglas Powell, is an author, spoken-word artist, educator, and Richmond, Virginia’s first poet laureate. He is the author of the collections God, Love, Death and Other Synonyms (310 Brown Street, 2019), Chrysalis Under Fire (The Writer’s Den, LLC, 2018), and Fighting Demons (Prysmatic Dreams Publishing, 2014). In his time as a slam poet, he has been a two-time southern regional team finalist, National Poetry Slam Champion, and Season 1 Screen Time Slam Champion. As a poetry slam coach, he has been a NPS Group Piece finalist and taken VCU’s poetry team to rank 3rd internationally. He is a TEDx speaker and founder of the poetry based art collective The Writer’s Den. In 2021, he received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.
In 2021, Roscoe Burnems was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Burnems will commission local youth and adult poets to take part in an interactive, multi-art form experience inspired by murals in Richmond, Virginia. The poets will create, record, and perform ekphrastic work inspired by these murals, which will be part of an interactive, self-guided mural tour. With the help of a local non-profit that brings equitable computer-science education to Richmonders, youth-created QR codes will be featured on the murals that lead to the ekphrastic poem(s). Burnems will also collaborate with a local muralist to create a literary and visual project inspired by his original poems.