The Oakland Public Library is very excited to announce that 15-year-old Leila Mottley has been selected as the City of Oakland’s 2018 Youth Poet Laureate. Ms. Mottley is a student at Oakland School for the Arts, a 2018 Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam Winner, founder and president of her school’s Women of Color Club and founder of a youth-led program called Lift Every Voice which brings together youth from different backgrounds in art advocacy workshops around youth incarceration.
Innosanto Nagara, the author and illustrator of social justice themed children’s books A is for Activist, Counting on Community, My Night in the Planetarium, and The Wedding Portrait, who served as one of this year’s five Youth Poet Laureate judges, says, “That Leila Mottley is a poet’s poet was obvious just from reading her work. Then you learn about her community activism, and her sophistication makes sense. Finally, you meet her and experience her performance, and it’s clear that she embodies ‘Oakland Youth Poet Laureate’.”
Ms. Mottley has been serving the city as Vice Youth Poet Laureate and has performed and spoken as representative of the program, her peers, and her city at numerous events and cultural conversations. This year, she emerged as the best of six talented Finalists from Oakland. Ms. Mottley will receive a $5,000 scholarship provided by Friends of the Oakland Public Library and the opportunity to officially represent the Oakland community through poetry, media, and public appearances.
Oakland’s 2018 Vice Youth Poet Laureate is Samuel Getachew, 15-year-old Oakland Technical High School student. Mr. Getachew is the 2017 and 2018 Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam Grand Slam Champion and an ambassador of the voting initiative Eighteen by 18. His poetry has garnered over half a million views online.