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Spotlight on 2022 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, Nadia Elbgal

By Jessie Nguyen-Bilse

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Friends Board Vice President Ynez Arce present Nadia Elbgal (center) with a $5,000 college scholarship for winning the 2022 OYPL competition.

Since 2012, the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate program has been highlighting some of the

best and brightest voices of the Bay Area. This year is no different as Nadia Elbgal, a recent

graduate of Berkeley High, has been named this year's poet. Nadia was awarded a $5,000 college scholarship along with the title of the 2022 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate.

A self proclaimed shy person, Nadia has been writing since she was in the fourth grade,

finding her voice first through short stories, songs, and plays. She began performing her work in the ninth grade when she was given the assignment to write a monologue and perform it for her class. She credits her teachers with helping to push her to not only put her work out there, but to write from within as well.

“There’s a little voice in your head,” Nadia recalls the advice from her AP Literature teacher, “write what it says.”

Staying true to that, much of Nadia's work speaks to the lived experiences of her Yemeni

community in Oakland. She says that she wants her poetry to not only uplift those around her, but to shed light on the ways in which her community can better the city as a whole.

And Nadia is not all talk. She shows her commitment through her mentorship of OUSD students. She is also an active role model to her four younger sisters who are at the heart of much of her poetry.

“I do it for them,” she states. “To make a path for them to find their passion.”

Now that she’s a high school graduate, Nadia feels there is much she’d like to do in the future. She’ll be taking classes at Berkeley City College and “acclimating to adult life.”