All library locations will be closed on Thursday, November 23rd and Friday, November 24th, for Thanksgiving.
Youth Poet Laureate Frequently Asked Questions
A printable version of these FAQs can be found here.
Go straight to questions about:
When are applications open?
Friday December 1st, 2017 to Monday, February 5th, 2018.
Where is the application found?
What needs to be included in my application?
Your complete application must include the following:
- 3 original poems showing excellence in Content, Craft and Voice and totaling no more than 10 pages typed. You will upload each poem to your online application.
- Preliminary judging is anonymous; DO NOT include your name in the submission of your poem.
- Please be sure your written work is spell-checked.
- Name and contact information for an Adult Sponsor
- If you advance to the final round, you will ask your adult sponsor to write you a letter of support. Tip: Ask someone for this well in advance!
- Artist Statement
- Introduce yourself; Tell us who you are and what poetry means to you. If you advance to the final round, this information will be used to build your bio. (250 words max).
- Optional: List of any Awards, Community Service, or Activism
- Name and contact information for your Guardian/ Parent, unless you are 18 on February 5th, 2018.
What is the judging process?
- The first round of judging will be anonymous and based on the Content, Craft and Voice of the three written poems, only.
- In the second and final round of judging, candidates will be judged, additionally, on Performance and Leadership, based on the letter of support, the artist statement, and any awards and community service, as well as an in-person reading and interview before a panel of judges.
- The 2018 Youth Poet Laureate will be announced at The 2018 Oakland Book Festival.
What are the exact criteria the judges will use?
Please review this document to see the exact criteria the judges will use.
Am I eligible to enter?
To enter the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate contest, you must
- be an Oakland resident
- be between the ages of 13 and 18 as of February 5th, 2018
- be available to serve as Laureate for the program year, June 2018 - June 2019:
- be living locally through the program year
- not be enrolled in college full-time during the program year
(Unfortunately, this means most senior high school students are not eligible to apply).
What does it mean to be the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and what is the time commitment?
- The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and the poets who advance to the final round will be invited to perform at public events throughout the program year and beyond.
- As Laureate you will be asked to represent Oakland and its youth at public and private events and be a model for other youth.
- As Laureate, you may be asked to share your experiences with the press and through blogs, videos and social media.
- To be available to serve as Laureate through the program year, June 2018 – June 2019, you must be living locally and not enrolled as a full-time college student. (Unfortunately, this means as a high school senior you may be ineligible to apply.)
- After completing your Laureate program year, you will receive an educational scholarship of $5,000, managed by ScholarMatch.
What support would I receive as the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate ?
As Oakland’s Youth Poet Laureate you will be in the spotlight, but you will also receive support from Oakland Public Library staff in developing your public speaking skills and in your role representing the city. ScholarMatch also offers academic support after the completion of your Laureate year and throughout your college years.
What does Family member eligibility include, and does this apply to me?
To be fair, we cannot consider applications from family members of current judges, funders and program sponsors who have significant influence over the contest criteria or outcome. If someone in your family is actively working on this year’s contest, you are not eligible. This “conflict of interest” policy applies only to those partners who are “coordinating, influencing or judging” the 2018 competition. Call us if you have any questions.
I am a teacher or youth worker; can I nominate someone?
Yes! You can submit the application on behalf of a young person as long as you can provide complete information for the nominee(s), including 3 poems, name of an Adult Sponsor and accurate contact information. You may nominate up to 3 students. Please confirm their ability to complete the program year (June 2018- June 2019) should they advance to the final round.
When will the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate be announced?
There will be an Oakland Youth Poet Laureate event at the 2018 Oakland Book Festival where all Finalists will perform and the new Laureate will be announced.
What does it mean to be a Finalist? When will I be notified that I’m a Finalist?
Finalists are all the applicants who advance to the final round of judging. Finalists will be notified in early March 2018, at which time you’ll be asked to provide a letter of support from an adult sponsor. In April 2018, all Finalists participate in an in-person judging round where you will be judged on Performance and Leadership. Finalists will have opportunities to meet experienced writers and appear at public events throughout the year and beyond.
Who are the judges?
There are five judges, representing a diverse group of experts from literacy, arts and educational organizations as well as local celebrity authors, artists and activists. Past judges have included U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, poets and playwrights Chinaka Hodge and Aimee Suzara, community organizer and Poetry for the People alum Maria Poblet, literary journal editor Kiala Givehand, local poet/publisher Raphael Cohen, NAACP image award nominee Arisa White, Kelsey Street Press member MG Roberts, former Oakland City Councilmember Wilson Riles, Hip Hop for Change Founder and Executive Director Kahfre Jay, current and former Oakland Youth Poet Laureates and Finalists, as well as more than a dozen local authors and community leaders.
What are the criteria the judges will use to choose the Finalists and the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate?
Your poems will be judged anonymously on Content, Craft and Voice in the first round. The Finalists will be judged, additionally, on Leadership and Performance and participate in an in-person second and final judging round. Please review this document to see the exact criteria the judges will use.
If I win, how will I receive the $5,000 award?
Scholarship funds will be sent directly to the school or arts program of your choice. You must complete your full year as Poet Laureate to receive your award. The scholarship is managed through ScholarMatch which also offers academic support after the completion of your Laureate year and throughout your college years.
What if the Poet Laureate doesn’t complete the full program year?
We expect a pool of very talented applicants, from which we will name a second place Laureate. This person will step into the role if the Youth Poet Laureate is unable to finish the year.
I live in San Leandro, Piedmont or Berkeley, can I apply?
You may only apply if you currently live in Oakland (though you can attend school in other towns). While we aren’t able to expand the contest to other cities right now, we welcome interested agencies from other cities to contact us with questions.
Who can I contact with questions?
Email email@example.com, or call the Oakland Public Library at (510) 761-7636.
Online applications will open December 1, 2017. Please check back then for application help and technical questions. You can start to prepare you application by using the paper application, though we ask you to submit your application online