Samuel Getachew Named 2019 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate

Picture of young man holding oversize check.

Oakland, CASamuel Getachew as been named the 2019 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate (OYPL), beating out nine other talented Finalists for a $5,000 college scholarship. The award was announced following performances by the Finalists in front of a live audience on Friday, June 7 at the Oakland Museum of California James Moore Theater.

Getachew, a 16-year-old heading into his senior year at Oakland Technical High School, will represent the Oakland community through poetry, media, and public appearances. He had served as the 2018 Vice Youth Poet Laureate where he performed and spoke as a representative of the program, his peers and his city at numerous events.

“I am so proud and grateful to be able to represent the beautiful radiant city that has cultivated so much of my personal growth as an artist and as an individual,” said 

Getachew. “Thank you so much to the Oakland Public Library, and to every person and organization that has come together to make the Youth Poet Laureate Program possible, for this incredible honor We need programs like this in Oakland now more than ever.”

To watch Getachew’s winning poem, click here

He is the three-time defending Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam champion, a 2019 YoungArts winner in Spoken Word, and has performed his writing in spaces ranging from corporate offices like Google and Salesforce, to organizations like the March for Our Lives. His poetry has been featured by NPR, KQED, KTVU News, Pop Up Magazine, the SF Curran, and has been published in the New York Times and SF Guardian.

KQED columnist and freelance journalist Pendarvis Harshaw, who served as one of five OYPL judges, says, “Samuel has been on the path for this title for some time now. No need to look at his extensive resume; you can just look at his posture and poise as he delivers his poems. He’s confident and believes in his words, which makes his words believable to the audience members. He embodies what the competition is all about: the next generation of voices from Oakland.”

Oakland’s 2019 Vice Youth Poet Laureate is Eleanor Wikstrom.  Wikstrom is a 16-year-old Oakland Skyline High School student where she is the President of the Pinoy (Filipino) Club and vice-president of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA). She is also the cross country / track & field team captain. Wilkstrom’s prose and poetry has been repeatedly recognized, awarded, and has been performed by the Oakland Gay Men’s Chorus.

 “I am extremely blessed to be part of such a vibrant and supportive community and I couldn't be more excited to work with Samuel and all of the other amazing Finalists to promote art and activism in Oakland and beyond,” said Wikstrom.

The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program is run by the 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 For more information please visit or contact Sharon McKellar, Supervising Librarian for Teen Services, at 510-238-7613 or

Stay up to date on events and appearances with the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate by liking or visiting

The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program is supported by a broad coalition of partner agencies across the Bay Area: Chapter 510, Write-to-Read and the Alameda County Library. The Friends of the Oakland Public Library finances the Laureate’s scholarship.

About OPL
The Oakland Public Library is a part of the City of Oakland in California and has been in existence since 1878. Locations include 16 neighborhood branches, a Main Library, a Second Start Adult Literacy Program, the Oakland Tool Lending Library, and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO). On April 1, 2019, OPL expanded its hours for the first time since 2004 thanks to the passage of Measure D. Starting July 1, 2019, OPL will no longer collect fines for overdue materials. The Oakland Public Library empowers all people to explore, connect, and grow.