Ella Gordon Announced as Thirteenth Oakland Youth Poet Laureate by Oakland Public Library (OPL)

Ella Gordon, 17 years old, has been named the 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate after competing with eight other Finalists, winning a $5,000 college scholarship generously funded by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library.


Media Contact: Tarshel Beards, tbeards@oaklandlibrary.org

Oakland, CA – June 7, 2024

Ella Gordon, 17 years old, has been named the 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate (OYPL) after competing with eight other Finalists, winning a $5,000 college scholarship generously funded by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library

“Ella is a talented poet and a powerful performer who cares deeply about her community. We can’t wait to see where her year as Laureate takes her,” said Sharon McKellar, supervising librarian for teen services at the Oakland Public Library. “The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program centers the voices of Oakland teens. It provides a platform that, we hope, allows everyone in Oakland, and beyond, to learn from their powerful words and their insightful and passionate truths. We are so excited to introduce our new Finalists into this incredible community of poets and to continue to work with our returning poets.”

The award was announced by District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb on Friday evening at the culmination of a packed live event during which all nine Finalists performed.

Gordon, a senior at Oakland Technical High School, will represent the Oakland community through poetry, media and public appearances. 

In addition to being the 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, Gordon is an Oakland Youth Poet Laureate 2023 Finalist, a Young Author Fiction Festival winner, and a regional winner in this year’s Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Gordon finds poetry to be an expression beyond words. Poetry creates a gateway for her to navigate the world, it allows her to find meaning and purpose in even the most minute or mundane aspects of life and express her passion for relevant issues. 

“Poetry is a voice," Gordon said. On being the 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, she says, "It is such a humbling experience to be appreciated for the very thing that allows me to speak. I am lucky enough to be supported by a creative and immensely talented community of poets that are my eternal inspiration and motivation. This program has given me and young poets all over Oakland the platform to share our voices and flourish. I am supremely honored to be this year's voice."

Performance by 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, Ella Gordon

Ellis Chhourn, an 18-year-old student at Cal State East Bay, Hayward, was named Oakland’s 2024 Vice Youth Poet Laureate and was honored on stage alongside Gordon and the other 2024 Finalists: Aniylah Dixon, Cael Dueñas-Lara, Symi Gabriel, Zoe Jung, Saskia Lee, Serafina Mackintosh, Maya Raveneau-Bey.

About OYPL

The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program, in its thirteenth year, is run by Oakland Public Library Teen Services and is an unprecedented citywide effort to celebrate literacy through poetry and connect young writers to far-reaching opportunities. Each year, OPL accepts submissions from talented Oakland writers (ages 13-18) to be considered for the honor.  

The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program is supported by a broad coalition of partner agencies across the Bay Area: Chapter 510, Write-to-Read, Youth Speaks, and the Alameda County Library.

The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, the Vice Youth Poet Laureate, and all Finalists are available for performances, talks, and workshops. Submit your booking requests at oaklandlibrary.org/yplbooking.

Stay up to date on events and appearances with the  Oakland Youth Poet Laureate on Instagram and Facebook (@youhpoetlaureate) or at  oaklandlibrary.org/youthpoets.

Bios of and performances by all 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalists

For more information, contact Sharon McKellar, supervising librarian for teen services, at 510-238-7613 or smckellar@oaklandlibrary.org.  

About OPL
The Oakland Public Library is a part of the City of Oakland in California and has been in existence since 1878. Locations include 16 neighborhood branches, a Main Library, a Second Start Adult Literacy Program, the Oakland Tool Lending Library, and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO). The Oakland Public Library empowers all people to explore, connect, and grow. 

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Oakland Public Library