Youth Poets Laureate and Judges

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Congratulations to the 2020 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, Vice Laureate and Finalists!


Greer Nakadegawa-Lee

Greer Nakadegawa-Lee is 16 years old and going into her junior year at Oakland Technical High School. She was a Finalist for the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate in 2019, and her first chapbook, "A Heart Full of Hallways," was published in 2020 with Nomadic Press. She has written a poem everyday for over two years. Through her writing she hopes to express the feelings and stories people often feel obligated to carry on their own. To her, poetry is a way of communicating the concepts regular speech fails to articulate, and therefore has a unique power to bring people together. 

Listen to Greer Nakadegawa-Lee perform her poem, "2020", and find a printable version of her inspiring words.


Michelle Arango

2020 Vice OYPL Michelle Arango

Michelle Arango is 17 and going into her senior year at Oakland Military Institute. She is a proud poet/artist activist, fighting for climate and social justice. She has been writing poetry since she first picked up a pencil. She is very passionate about her activism and inspired by what she sees in her community. 

Announcing Oakland's 2020 Youth Poet Laureate Finalists:

2020 OYPL Finalists

  • Chiana Griswa, age 16
  • Hunter Jackson, age 14
  • Jordan Tisnado, age 18
  • Siara Edmond, age 15  

Watch performances and interviews of all our 2020 Finalists here!


We are very grateful to all our past judges for their time and their dedication to Oakland youth.

Oakland Youth Poet Laureate 2020 Judges 


Photo of Tyson Amir

Tyson Amir is an author, musician, educator, community organizer, and freedom fighter born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the spirit of The Dragon, George Lester Jackson, he endeavors to utilize any and all resources at his disposal as weapons to fight for the freedom and liberation of the people. Tyson is the author of the book Black Boy Poems, the Black Boy Poems Curriculum and the founder/director of the Black Literary Collective.

You can find out more about Tyson Amir at


Photo of Rae'Chel Stanley

Rae’Chel Stanley is a 21-year-old Bay Area native dedicated to the liberation of African, Carribean, and Black communities around the globe. Her passionate relationship with poetry began when she was gifted a journal in the fifth grade. Since then, Rae’Chel always finds herself lost in the pages of her poetry. A graduating senior at San Francisco State University, Rae’Chel has aspirations of attending graduate school in the realm of holistic healing and expressive arts therapy. If this butterfly isn’t floating around the Bay being active in community organizing, she’s probably back in her cocoon writing more lines. Rae’Chel is so excited to be judging Oakland Youth Poet Laureate for the first time! She can’t wait to hear all of these magical youth voices!


Photo of Evelin Avila Torres

Evelin Avila Torres is an Oakland Native, UC Santa Cruz Alumni, Educator and The Beat Within Facilitator/Editor. Evelin is passionate about shining light to issues around incarceration and is part of Initiate Justice, an organization dedicated to ending mass incarceration and changing criminal justice policy. She is also part of H.E.L.L.A, (Healing, Empowerment, Love, Liberation and Action) a closed group of educators of color who get together to do more internally focused work including healing centered writing, art based activities and community building. Poetry has been a liberating force in her life and hopes that more Oakland youth have the privilege to see and experience the magic in poetry. In her free time you can catch her reading, hiking with her dog Gabo (named after one of her favorite authors, Gabriel Garcia Marquez) or traveling.


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The Rev. Dani Gabriel is a queer/gender fluid poet and writer, the author of “The Woman You Write Poems About” (Civil Defense Poetry), coauthor of “Molotov Mouths” (Manic D Press), and author of “SAM!” (Penny Candy Books), as well as other titles and numerous publications in periodicals and online. Dani received an MFA from Mills College. They are the Poet Laureate of El Cerrito, CA. Dani is also a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of California.


Photo of Tino VH Jr

Tino V. H. Jr. is a spoken word poet born and raised in Oakland, CA. He attended UC Santa Cruz, pursuing a degree in Literature. At UCSC he performed for the schools CUPSI team between the years of 2014-2015, and coached the 2017 team. He was also a part of the Legendary Collective in Santa Cruz in 2018, where they traveled to Southwest Shootout in Albuquerque, NM and won. His work explores im/migration, indigeneity, the hood, queerness, feminism, and decolonial frameworks. He currently curates three shows in the East Bay (RichOak’s Alchemy Open Mic and the Oakland Slam; the Berkeley Slam). In his spare time, he constantly updates his “Best East Oakland Tacos” list.