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, and learn a bit about them.
Meet the 2023 OYPL Poets
Bios are current as of May, 2023.
Aniylah Dixon, Finalist
Aniylah, or Niy (she/her, they/them), is in 10th grade at Oakland School for the Arts.
Her interest in the arts began at age 4, starting with visual arts and moving into instrumental music, theater, vocal music, and poetry. This year she 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.
Ella Gordon, Finalist
Ella (she/her) is in 10th grade at Oakland Technical High School.
Poetry started Ella’s addiction to emotion and her desire to convey feelings so immense that they couldn’t come from words. For her, poetry is an expression beyond words: It’s a voice. Poetry creates a gateway for Ella to navigate the world.
Isabel Park, Finalist
Isabel (she/her) is in 11th grade at Oakland High School.
Poetry is a way for Isabel to process her feelings and thoughts and to turn them into something more put together than her memories. It's a way for her to record the past and present so that she can, in the future, look back and remember. She believes that poetry is powerful in many ways. It's a creative outlet and a spotlight to lift up voices, but it's also a teacher and can help you grow your voice.
Maya Raveneu-Bey, Finalist
Maya (any pronouns) is in 10th grade in Oakland School For The Arts.
Maya is a multi talented artist and always ready to involve themself in the arts. They love how much creativity poetry allows. Writing leaves them calm and peaceful. To Maya, poetry is like a million lenses, each one of them seeing anything and everything differently.
Michelle Vong, Vice Oakland Youth Poet Laureate
Michelle (she/her, they/them) is an 11th grader at Oakland Technical High School.
Michelle describes poetry as a way to express complicated thoughts we can't say with simple words and as an art form that allows her to capture moments and feelings onto paper so that they don't get lost. Poetry is a way to love, capturing moments in life that let people know that no action goes unnoticed. She believes that poetry is also a tool that, while personal, if utilized correctly can shed light on pressing issues that require attention.
Nairobi Barnes, Oakland Youth Poet Laureate
Nairobi (she/her) is a Merritt College student.
As a woman who leads with her heart, Nairobi’s words have never steered her wrong. With every new journey she embarks on, a poem follows as well. Poetry is Nairobi, and Nairobi is poetry. Poetry is incomprehensible, and she leads her life with its touch.
Serafina Mackintosh, Finalist
Serafina (she/her, they/them) is in 8th grade at Oakland School for the Arts.
Serafina is very passionate about poetry and writing and has always found words exciting. Writing has always been a way for Serafina to be themself, through twisting beautiful words. They are excited to see what happens throughout their writing journey!