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Nadia Elbgal, 18, has been named the 2022 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, winning a $5,000 college scholarship after beating six other finalists this past Saturday at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater.
Elbgal, who graduates from Berkeley High School in June, will represent the Oakland community through poetry, media, and public appearances, according to the Oakland Public Library.
In addition to being the 2022 Laureate, Elbgal is one of two Oakland 2021 Vice Youth Poets Laureate. She’s an active member in her community where she has mentored Yemeni students in OUSD elementary schools and is an activist for the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities.
She’s also a songwriter who uses poetry daily, as she feels it’s essential to writing her music. She said poetry has always made her feel empowered and hopeful. It is a place where she can get her emotions out and is a form of therapy.
“This is me sharing a part of myself. I’m just so glad I get to represent Oakland and use this program to inspire the youth.”Nadia Elbgal, 2022 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate
“I never thought that I would make it this far,” Elbgal said, in a statement. “Even becoming a finalist for 2021 was such a huge, huge accomplishment. It makes me so happy that I got to be a part of it and that I still get to be a part of it this year. It’s a great program.”
“I get very emotional when I think about it just because I’m a very shy person and it was very out of my comfort zone to perform in front of other people,” Elbgal said. “This is me sharing a part of myself. I’m just so glad I get to represent Oakland and use this program to inspire the youth.”
Oakland also named Kaylan Black as its 2022 Vice Youth Poet Laureate. Kaylan is a 16-year-old junior at Envision Academy of Arts and Technology. She’s a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and is on the African American Honor Roll.
In its 11th year, the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program is run by 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.