Alameda County Youth Poet Laureate

Alameda County Youth Poet Laureate

We're looking for Alameda County's next YOUTH POET LAUREATE!

Will it Be You?

Applications Open April 1, 2024

Are you a teen who wants to speak your truth, make friends, and have fun? We’re looking for poets and spoken word artists from all over the county to SHOW UP and AMPLIFY YOUTH VOICES.

Congratulations to the 2023 Alameda County Youth Poet Laureate and Vice-Laureate!

SPECIAL THANKS to our 2023 Judges for their support of young Alameda County poets and for their commitment to lifting up youth voices.

Who is the Alameda County Youth Poet Laureate?

In summer 2024, Alameda County will select its 2024 Youth Poet Laureate. The Youth Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador to inspire civic engagement, social justice, cultural awareness, and literary excellence in our communities.

Applications for the Youth Poet Laureate program will be accepted from April 1 through April 30, 2024. All applications are due on April 30, 2024.

To be eligible for the competition you must: 

  • Be an Alameda County resident.
  • Be between the ages of 13-18 as of May 1, 2024.
  • Be available to serve as Laureate for the program year, August 3, 2024 to August 1, 2025.
  • If you are selected as Laureate or Vice-Laureate, you must live locally during the laureate year August 3, 2024 to August 1, 2025.

Poems will be judged on content, craft, and voice.

Those who advance to the interview round are also judged on performance and leadership potential.

Finalists will be announced at the end of August during an awards ceremony.

Thanks to the Alameda County Library Foundation for sponsoring the Alameda County Youth Poet Laureate program.

Frequently Asked Questions

When are applications accepted and due?

  • Applications for the Youth Poet Laureate program will be accepted from April 1 through April 30, 2024.
  • All applications are due on April 30, 2024.

What does the Youth Poet Laureate do?

  • The Laureate and the finalists will be invited to perform at public events throughout the year, and beyond.
  • The Laureate and Vice-Laureate will serve for one year (August 2024 to August 2025). They must live locally during this period.
  • The Laureate and finalists will be asked to share their experiences, writing process, and values on online platforms.
  • The Laureate and finalists will have the ability to develop a community wide project to bring poetry to everyone.
  • The Laureate will submit one poem that will be featured on the library website. The Laureate will also need to submit three poems for the national anthology by Urban Word, which will feature the work of all the 2024 Youth Poet Laureates across the country.

What does the Laureate title earn?

  • A MacBook and computer accessories.
  • The Laureate’s poetry will be included in a national anthology that also features the work of Laureates nationwide.
  • The Alameda County Library will support the Laureate and will field event requests.
  • The current Laureate and any former Laureates between the ages of 13-19 can submit poetry for the Regional Youth Poet Laureate competition and the statewide California Youth Poet Laureate competition. There are four Regional Youth Poet Laureates, and one will be selected as the National Youth Poet Laureate.

What should be included in your application?

  • Three original poems that showcase your content, craft, and voice. Submissions should be no more than 10 pages. Do not include your name in the document as the first round is anonymous.
  • Name and contact information of an adult sponsor who is familiar with your writing, academic achievements, and community involvement. If you advance to the next round, your sponsor will be asked to write a letter of recommendation. Ask for this letter in advance so the letter will be submitted by May 31!
  • Artist statement: Introduce yourself! Tell us who you are and what poetry means to you. Your statement should be 250 words maximum.
  • Your biography: This should include any awards, community service, work experience, or activism.
  • Name and contact info of your legal guardian unless you are 18 by May 1, 2024.

How does this work? 

The first round of judging will be anonymous, based solely on the content, craft, and voice of your written poems. Learn more about the judging processFor questions about the Youth Poet Laureate program, please email:

2024 Youth Poet Laureate Applications

Applications are closed. Finalists will be announced at the end of August.

Poetry to Inspire

Meet the 2024 Judges

Alan Pelaez Lopez

Alan Pelaez Lopez is an afroindigenous (Zapotec) poet, installation, and adornment artist from Oaxaca, México. Their work attends to the quotidian realities of undocumented migrants in the United States, Black resistance in the Pacific, and the intimate kinship units that trans* and nonbinary people build in the face of violence. Their debut visual poetry collection, Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien (The Operating System, 2020), was a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Award. They are also the author of the chapbook to love and mourn in the age of displacement (Nomadic Press, 2020), and the editor of When Language Broke Open: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Black Writers of Latin American Descent (University of Arizona Press, 2023).

Nitika Sathiya

Nitika Sathiya is a poet, a woman in STEM, and a community organizer. In 2022, she was named an Alameda County Co-Youth Poet Laureate. Nitika’s poetry has been published in the Tri-City Voice and Poetry for Progress. Additionally, she has been published by NASA for her team’s research on food waste, drones, and climate change. Nitika volunteers and advocates for the arts through the Fremont Cultural Arts Council, where she serves as the lead intern, and with Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments as a youth volunteer. She regularly hosts open mics in her community to invite all artists to showcase their writing and voices!

Steve Clemmons

Steve Clemmons is a lifelong learner originally from Richmond, CA who now lives in Oakland. Currently, he serves as a Social Studies teacher at Prospect HS in Pleasant Hill, an alternative education campus in the Mt. Diablo USD. In addition to teaching high school, he serves as an adjunct professor of Communications and Consultant at the University of Iowa and the University of Oregon.

In his spare time, he serves as the Director of Forensics (Speech and Debate) at Saratoga HS, where in 2021 he was selected for induction into the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA) Hall of Fame.

Jennifer Esteen

Jennifer Esteen is a registered nurse, mother, and community leader who has served as Vice President of the Alameda Health System Board of Trustees, and is currently a council member on the Eden Municipal Advisory Council. She has spent her career delivering care to the most vulnerable, working first as a nurse in the San Francisco General Hospital Psychiatric Emergency Room, and now with San Francisco residents who have severe mental illness, need supportive housing, and help managing activities of daily living. After Jennifer successfully led the fight to preserve funding for permanent housing for her clients, she was appointed to the role of Vice President of Organizing for SEIU 1021. In her work, Jennifer has helped clients navigate the vicious cycle that people experience from diminished funding for mental health care. Jennifer is a champion for working families and works to deliver policies that will keep our communities safe and healthy.

Our Sponsor

Thank you to the Alameda County Library Foundation for making this program possible.

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