Youth Poet Laureate Program

The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program is an unprecedented citywide effort to celebrate literacy through poetry and connect young writers to far-reaching opportunities.

We are THRILLED to announce the 2014 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate:

Photo of Sophie Elkin

Sophie Elkin

17-year-old Sophie Elkin was raised in Oakland, California and attended Oakland School for the Arts. She is a key member of Youth Speak’s advisory board SPOKES and a mentor to new, young writers.

Ms. Elkin emerged as the best of nine talented finalists from schools across the Bay Area. Students from Bentley, Head-Royce, Met West and Oakland School for the Arts participated in a highly competitive process juried by accomplished authors, educators and community leaders. Ms. Elkin will receive a $5,000 scholarship and the opportunity to officially represent the Oakland community through poetry, media, and public appearances.

Current California Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, who participated as a judge in this year’s competition, calls Sophie “… a word master, a performance magician with an eye and heart on the unity and healing of the streets, city and all people.” 


  • Obasi Davis, 17, Berkeley High School – 2013 Poet Laureate
  • Stephanie Yun, 18, Skyline High School – 2012 Poet Laureate

About the Youth Poet Laureate Program

Presented by Oakland Public Library, Youth Speaks and Pro Arts, the Youth Poet Laureate program is supported by more than dozen community partners representing Oakland’s leading arts, education and community organizations. Scholarship funding is provided by the John diTargiani Fund at Youth Speaks and the Friends of the Oakland Public Library. Scholarship administration and academic support is provided by ScholarMatch.

Community Partners: Oakland School for the Arts, Mills College, Generations Literary Journal, Youth Radio, Oakland Unified School District, Write-to-Read and Alameda County Library, California Poets in the Schools, Chapter 510 (a made-in-Oakland literacy and writing project), and BeastCrawl.

BOOKING: To book program finalists for a performance or workshop, please fill out our Booking Request Form

MEDIA INQUIRIES: contact Lana Adlawan at Oakland Public Library, 510-238-7613