This Year's Poets

Each year we have not only an Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and Vice Laureate, but we also welcome all of our Finalists into this amazing community of young poets.

Meet this year's poets below. See them perform (coming soon), and learn a bit about them.

Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Performances & 2024 Announcement

Jun 7th | 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Oakstop Broadway
Join us for this exciting event to celebrate our thirteenth Oakland Youth Poet Laureate! Featuring performances by our 2024 Finalists.

Meet the 2024 OYPL Poets

Bios are current as of April, 2024.

Aniylah Dixon, Finalist

Aniylah (Niy) Dixon is a Junior at Oakland School for the Arts.  

Aniylah’s interest in the arts began at age 4, starting with visual arts and progressing into instrumental music, theater, vocal music, and poetry. She's been performing in school assemblies, talent shows, and events since the 1st grade. She performed the group piece “Glory” with 2 others at her school’s Black Joy assembly. This year she played the role of Alyssa Greene in YPTMTC’s production of “The Prom.” 

She recently began to work more on her writing as a means of self-expression. She hopes to channel her poetry into songwriting and eventually begin publishing her own music.  

Aniylah Dixon '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Aniylah Dixon, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Cael Dueñas-Lara, Finalist

Cael Dueñas-Lara is in 8th grade at St. Paul’s Episcopal School. 

Cael is a second-generation Mexican-American, born and raised in the vibrant and diverse city of Oakland. Writing has been one of his few outlets of expressing himself. He is proud to showcase the rich history and culture of his family and community.  

His writing is inspired by the lived experiences of growing up in Oakland, a city that is often viewed through the lens of struggle, despair, and lawlessness. Yet, it is also a city full of resilience, hope, and a deep sense of community. Through his writing, he hopes to share the beauty and complexities of his community's culture and history, showcasing the rich traditions, languages, and customs that make it unique.  

Cael Dueñas-Lara '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Cael Dueñas-Lara, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Ella Gordon, Finalist

Ella Gordon is a Junior at Oakland Technical High School. 

Ella has loved poetry for as long as she’s been able to read and write. Poetry started her addiction to emotion, her desire to convey a reaction or feeling that seemed so immense that it couldn’t have come from words. But poetry, to her, is an expression beyond words, it’s a voice.  

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. 

Ella Gordon '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Ella Gordon, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Ellis Chhourn, Finalist

Ellis Chhourn is a student at Cal State East Bay, Hayward. 

Ellis, AKA E$TEEZY, is a Cambodian and Lao-American Spoken Word Poet from the Dubbs in East Oakland. E$TEEZY considers himself a social justice advocate and uses his writing to speak for his community by expressing their struggles in the form of spoken word.  

Through his writing, E$TEEZY hopes to introduce others to the often unheard culture of South East Asians in Oakland. By amplifying cultural and communal struggles, E$TEEZY wishes to mend and soothe his culture. In Spoken Word he finds freedom in being able to have no restrictions on what he has to say or how he says it. 

Ellis Chhourn '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Ellis Chhourn, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Maya Raveneau-Bey, Finalist

Maya Raveneau-Bey is a junior at Oakland School for the Arts. 

Maya, a 2023 and 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist, 2023 YouthSpeaks Slam competition Finalist, and member of the Chapter 510 Youth Advisory board, is a learning poet.  

She assumed she was suffering from seeing the world in an upside down perspective, poetry introduced itself to her as a repetitive inconvenience. School was structured to indoctrinate a language of practicality into her that confined her creativity. It made it difficult to fit into a unidirectional system and she lost sight of a gift that was left in waiting. The reality was that she could see a poetic dimension to life, and this power with words bled into her early years and showed in birthday cards to personal essays to poems.  

As she continues to learn the parallels of who she is and what she chooses to speak, her craft refines, her writing layers, and her voice grows spirited. 

Maya Raveneau-Bey '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Maya Raveneau-Bey, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Saskia Lee, Finalist

Saskia Lee is a junior at Lick-Wilmerding High School.  

In her poetry, she likes to write about the mundane everyday moments in her life that she finds beautiful for no particular reason: driving through San Francisco at night and looking out at the gleaming city lights, running through the Santa Cruz woods with her friends, sitting on the train with her earbuds plugged in and staring at strangers she’ll never see again, or grabbing a glazed donut with her brother at the 24/7 shop on her street. 

She also writes poetry to answer the questions she asks herself. “What will death sound like when I finally reach it? Will it be a roaring, cacophonous symphony that reaches its pinnacle at my last breath, or a subdued, peaceful outro to what I can only hope will be a long, fulfilling life?” Unfortunately, she won’t be able to report back to all of the curious, awaiting readers, for obvious reasons. But she continues to write because she carries with her both the gift and the burden of a condition she deems “preemptive nostalgia,” which she defines as a visceral urge, after experiences both big and small, to grab a pen and release her thoughts and feelings into her poetry.  

Saskia Lee '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Saskia Lee, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Serafina Mackintosh, Finalist

Serafina Morales Mackintosh is a 9th grader at Oakland School for the Arts.  

All her life Serafina has adored the way poetry makes you feel and as she started to write her own, she has flowed into the way it lets you express yourself. To Serafina, poetry is a way to experience and move through life in a more intimate open-minded way. 

She has always been raised with an appreciation for poetry and writing in general. Serafina especially loves to write about her family and her experiences in nature and in her life. Poetry has always been there for Serafina, and she is so thankful for the way it lets her think and imagine. 

Serafina Mackintosh '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Serafina Mackintosh, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Symi Gabriel, Finalist

Symi Gabriel is an 11th grade student at Gateway to College.  

Poetry for Symi is a way to understand and tackle their emotions head on. Instead of waiting to understand their emotions before they write about them, they put them down on a page as a way of understanding and processing. Writing is a way to slow down their mind and take a snapshot of their current emotional state. 

They often choose to tackle the intersection of their political and personal life experiences to create connections to the world at large, especially in the context of Oakland. They take memories and try to connect them to larger topics in their community. Themes in their work include gentrification, mental health, their yearning for deep connection, and their complex relationship to their faith. 

Symi Gabriel '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Symi Gabriel, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Zoe Jung, Finalist

Zoe Jung is a Senior at Oakland School for the Arts. 

Zoe is a queer autistic editor, essayist, and poet currently writing their first book, a poetry and essay collection called Navigance Manifest.  

Zoe first sought out poetry because they felt it would be a better way to articulate their experiences than they had at the time. That was almost three years ago. Since then, it has become their most vital craft. 

Poetry is a distillation, a clarification of life and of meaning. It’s a way to communicate and understand; they write, and in the process, they find themself. Writing pins down ambiguities and poetry sharpens them, brightens them, pulls emotion straight from their lungs and weaves it into meaning. It’s not just transference—it’s art. It’s the most honest, beautiful way they’ve found to put their thoughts where they can see them. 

Poetry is also a weapon, because art is a weapon for those denied understanding. It’s a way to communicate outside of the familiar, which means it still gets to people when logic has long become background noise. 

Zoe Jung '24 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Performance by Zoe Jung, 2024 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist

Check out more performances by OYPL poets.

OYPL Performances and More

OYPL poets are able to perform, speak, host workshops, plan projects, & share their truths in many ways. See what they've accomplished!

Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Performances & 2024 Announcement

Jun 7th | 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Oakstop Broadway
Join us for this exciting event to celebrate our thirteenth Oakland Youth Poet Laureate! Featuring performances by our 2024 Finalists.
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