Meet the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Judges

Each year five judges work together to select the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate.

Our judges represent a diverse group of experts from literacy, arts, and educational organizations as well as local celebrity authors, artists, and activists.

Past judges have included U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, poets and playwrights Chinaka Hodge and Aimee Suzara, community organizer and Poetry for the People alum Maria Poblet, literary journal editor Kiala Givehand, NAACP image award nominee Arisa White, KQED Columnist Pendarvis Harshaw, award-winning writer MK Chavez, former Oakland City Councilmember Wilson Riles, Hip Hop for Change Founder and Executive Director Khafre Jay, author, musician, educator, and community organizer Tyson Amir, former Oakland Youth Poets Laureate and Finalists, as well as many other local authors and community leaders.

Meet the 2023 OYPL Judges

Derrick Carr

Derrick Carr has lived in the Bay Area since he was old enough to read. He's lived his adult life in Oakland.

He co-founded his college slam team; co-hosted The Lit Slam in SF; and reviewed and edited poems for Muzzle Magazine and Tandem, the Lit Slam's journal. 

His writing has been published in journals including Muzzle Magazine, Adroit, and The Oakland Review. 

Paul Corman-Roberts

Paul Corman-Roberts is the author of the full-length poetry collection Bone Moon Palace from Nomadic Press (2021.)

An original founder and organizer of the Beast Crawl Lit Festival he currently teaches workshops for the Older Writer’s Lab in conjunction with the SF Public Library, the San Francisco Creative Writing Institute and the Oakland Unified School District.

He sometimes fills in as a drummer for the U.S. Ghostal Service and The Jennifer Blowdryer Band, but mostly he is just exhausted.  

Siara Edmond

Siara Edmond is a freshman at UC Davis and a 2019, 2020, 2021 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist.

When not writing she enjoys playing trumpet, volunteering with unhoused people, biking, and socially distancing in Barnes and Noble.

She has performed throughout the Bay Area virtually and in-person including at the Laurel Street Fair, the De Young museum, and Chapter 510.


Freddy Gutierrez

Freddy Gutierrez is a California poet and theatre maker.

Freddy facilitates writing and performance art spaces with prisoners in the Bay Area and the United Kingdom, using metaphor alongside personal narrative to shape social commentary as catalysts for storytelling.

Freddy seeks to foster agency of voice in those he creates with.

He’s been published by Los Angeles Poet Society Press, The Puerto Rico Review, The Acentos Review, Nomadic Press, and ArtePublico Press; and featured as LoWriter of the Week selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. 

Marlene Sanchez

Marlene Sanchez is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center. She is a proud San Francisco Native, Chicana, movement leader, organizer, and a formerly incarcerated woman.

Marlene came to community work at age 15 looking for employment and a way out of streets and the juvenile justice system. She was hired as a community health outreach worker, providing HIV/STD education and harm reduction supplies and love to hundreds of young women who lived and worked in the underground street economies of San Francisco.

She has since stepped into leadership at the Young Women’s Freedom Center, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), and recently served as the Interim Executive Director of Alliance for Girls, an organization she helped found. Marlene is a founding member of All of Us or None (AOUON); a movement building group working to restore the rights of – and fight against the discrimination of – incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.


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