Nadia Elbgal, 18 years old, has been named the 2022 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, after competing with six other Finalists, and has won a $5,000 college scholarship generously funded by Friends of the Oakland Public Library.
The award was announced by Mayor Libby Schaaf on Saturday afternoon at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater at the culmination of a live event during which all seven Finalists performed.
Nadia, who graduates from Berkeley High School in June, will represent the Oakland community through poetry, media, and public appearances.
In addition to being the 2022 Laureate, Nadia is one of two Oakland 2021 Vice Youth Poets Laureate. She is an active member in her community where she has mentored Yemeni students in OUSD elementary schools and is an activist for the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities.
She is a songwriter who uses poetry daily and feels it is essential to writing her music. Poetry has always made her feel empowered and hopeful. It is a place where she can get her emotions out and is a form of therapy for her.
Ms. Elbgal says, “I never thought that I would make it this far. Even becoming a Finalist for 2021 was such a huge, huge accomplishment. It makes me so happy that I got to be a part of it and that I still get to be a part of it this year. It’s a great program…it’s an excellent program.
It’s just super cool that I can be involved in a whole bunch of different events and performances. Being able to represent Oakland and to talk about all the issues that go on and to have people really pay attention and to just have people listen to that, it’s really exciting to know that that’s a possibility.
I get very emotional when I think about it just because I’m a very shy person and it was very out of my comfort zone to perform in front of other people. This is me sharing a part of myself. I’m just so glad I get to represent Oakland and use this program to inspire the youth.”
Oakland’s 2022 Vice Youth Poet Laureate, Kaylan Black, was also announced at the event on May 21.
Kaylan is a 16-year-old junior at Envision Academy of Arts and Technology. She is the other of two 2021 Oakland Vice Youth Poets Laureate and has now also earned the title of 2022 Oakland Vice Youth Poet Laureate. She is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and is on the African American Honor Roll. Poetry is unique to her because it allows her to freely express herself and it shows how different we are. It is a way to build bonds with others and is a place where she can release her feelings with no qualms about how it may be perceived.
The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program, in its eleventh 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, 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.
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.
For more information please visit oaklandlibrary.org/youthpoets, email oypl@oaklandlibraryorg, or contact Sharon McKellar, Supervising Librarian for Teen Services, at 510-238-7613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.