Oakland, CA – Eight finalists have been announced in the City of Oakland’s second annual Youth Poet Laureate competition. These talented young poets made it through a highly competitive first round juried by esteemed judges, including accomplished authors, educators and community leaders. The Oakland Public Library, in partnership with Youth Speaks (the country’s leading nonprofit presenter of spoken word performance, education and youth development programs), is staging the annual competition. Once announced, the winner will be honored with a $5,000 scholarship and the opportunity to officially represent his/her community through poetry, media, and public appearances. A second round of judging begins in June, and the winner will be announced in early August.
First-round evaluations were based solely on the strength of the applicants’ poetry. Judges looked for writing that demonstrated Overall Artistic Excellence, Bold Approach in Content and Form, Outstanding Creativity, Originality and Authenticity. The eight finalists represent the best of Oakland’s young talent, while also reflecting the city’s lauded diversity. They attend five different schools and hail from seven different zip codes. They are:
· Olivia Hoffman, 16, Oakland School for the Arts
· Maya Bello, 16, Holy Names High School
· Obasi Davis, 17, Berkeley High School
· Robert Paige, 18, Oakland Technical High School
· Mina Jameson, 15, Oakland School for the Arts
· Francesca Paris, 16, Head-Royce School
· Cindy Huey, 17, Oakland Technical High School
· Kai Smith, 15, Oakland School for the Arts
All finalists will gain mentorship and educational opportunities. They will also have their work published in an anthology. Their submissions will be forwarded to a panel of celebrity judges, including poet and playwright Chinaka Hodge, poet and performer Raphael Cohen, and current Youth Poet Laureate Stephanie Yun, who won the competition in 2012.
Youth Poet Laureate Finalists will make several public appearances this summer before the competition culminates August 2–4, when the winner will be announced. Dates and venues will be announced soon.
Photos available upon request.
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