Poet Laureate


Oakland Youth Poet Laureate


About The Program

In 2012, Youth Speaks launched the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program in partnership with the Oakland Public Library. We continue to stand behind the mission of this program, which is now being led by the Oakland Public Library, and support their efforts to sustain and advance that mission for young writers in Oakland.​

Applications for the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate have closed.

OYPL Website

Meet Oakland’s 2017 Youth Poet Laureate

Lucy Flattery-Vickness
Lucy is 18 years old and will graduate from Oakland Tech in June 2017. She is part of many local communities – as an athlete, a young woman, a white ally, a poet, and a proud Oakland Native. For the past three years, Lucy was a first-place finalist in the OUSD Martin Luther King Oratorical Festival. She was also an Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist for the past three years, and a runner-up in 2016. Lucy writes poetry for herself, but also to spin controversy into something easily digestible, to create a web of people who realize togetherness can make necessary change, and to call people forward.

Book Poet Laureate

Congratulations, again, to all our 2017 Finalists:
Miles DeRosa, student at Oakland School for the Arts
Emma Linnéa Hardison, student at Oakland School for the Arts
Leila Mottley, student at Oakland School for the Arts
Lizette Navarro, student at Skyline High School
Krysia Olszewska, student at Piedmont High School
Amaya (Bayleaf) Wilson, student at Oakland School for the Arts

Oakland’s Laureates: A Brief History

2016 – Azariah Cole-Shephard, Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy
2015 – Tova Ricardo, Bentley High School
2014 – Sophie Elkin, Oakland School for the Arts
2013 – Obasi Davis, Berkeley High School
2012 – Stephanie Yun, Skyline High School


Azariah Cole-Shephard is Oakland’s 2016 Youth Poet Laureate. She is a freshman at Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering – SJSU. Poetry became her voice in eighth grade. Azariah’s world views are highly illustrated in the poetry that she writes as she addresses both personal and cultural battles that she participates in. Poetry is important to her because it is a unique way to articulate truth and educate those around her in the process.

As a black woman within a society that aims to silence and erase us from important conversations, she believes that her ability to articulate her position on social issues is extremely powerful. Azariah feels that the most significant contribution she’s made to her community is her advocacy for youth who face the struggles similar to hers and are seeking knowledge of self as well as cultural context. She spends her free time mentoring and tutoring at her school as well as at her church and she has seen youth flourish into strong individuals as they develop a sense of self-confidence.

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The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate is a program of the Oakland Public Library in collaboration with more than a dozen community partners and funded with the generous support of The Friends of the Oakland Public Library. oypl-partners