The city of San Antonio on March 20 announced Nephtali De León as San Antonio’s new poet laureate, a role that De León will be serving in from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2026.

City officials said De León is a Chicano writer and artist known for his poetry, children's stories, essays, paintings and sculptures. The Laredo native has said his immigrant parents were responsible for first exposing him to literature.

De León published his first book, “Chicanos: Our Background and Our Pride,” in the early 1960s during his senior year of high school. He then published several poets and plays with many of his works being translated in numerous languages, city officials said.

De León is a full-time poet, writer and painter who performs lectures and poetry at schools and community events.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the city’s Department of Arts and Culture will host a public investiture ceremony 6 p.m. April 10 at City Council chambers, 114 W. Commerce St., to formally appoint De León poet laureate, a position designed to promote and preserve the art of poetry while celebrating the culture and history of San Antonio.

Local leaders said San Antonio in 2012 became the first major Texas city to recognize and appoint a poet laureate. Texas has appointed a state poet laureate since 1932. De León joins previous San Antonio poets laureate Carmen Tafolla, 2012-14; Laurie Ann Guerrero, 2014-16; Jenny Browne 2016-18; Octavio Quintanilla 2018-20; and Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, 2020-23.

Three of the previous San Antonio poets laureate have also become state poets laureate for Texas, local leaders said.

“[De León’s] work in the community is exemplary of the role of a poet laureate. He is one of the most prolific Chicano writers in the literary world today, and his lyrical poetry and other artistic expressions have touched the lives of so many, both here in San Antonio and across the globe,” said Krystal Jones, executive director of the city arts and culture department, in a statement.

De León said he is humbled and honored by an honor bestowed upon him by his longtime home city.

“Poetry is to the soul what music is to the ear. It is the most profound impassioned quest to brush with the divine. In San Antonio, we speak through our ancestors in a code-switching modality, taco-flavored musings. It is the poetry of our jalapeno hot, chili-flavored souls. It is time to raise the roof high and celebrate our city,” De León said in a statement.