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.

Nairobi Barnes Announced as 2023 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate

Jun 03, 2023
Nairobi Barnes, 18 years old, has been named the 2023 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, winning a $5000 scholarship.

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.

Aniylah Performance

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. 

Ella Performance

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.

Isabel Performance

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.

Maya Performance

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.

Michelle Performance

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.

Nairobi Performance

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!

Serafina Performance

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!
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