OAKLAND -- An Oakland teen, actively involved in the community, won the city's 2013 Youth Poet Laureate title last week and received a $5,000 scholarship.
Obasi Davis, born and raised in Oakland, was one of eight finalists in the poetry competition that began in April. The 17-year-old, who became interested in poetry when he was 12, was among 42 applicants in the competition.
Davis was honored at the Aug. 2 ceremony, where the finalists performed. The judges included the 2012 Youth Poet Laureate winner, as well as a local poet and performer.
Davis is a founding member of the Young, Gifted and Black poetry ensemble and a member of the Spokes, Youth Speaks' teen advisory board and production training program. He will also represent the Bay Area as a member of its delegation to the Brave New Voices International Teen Poetry Slam and Festival this weekend in San Francisco.
"Expertly balancing a focused rage with an irrepressible tenderness, Davis is certain to inspire and activate a new generation of leaders through both the written and spoken word," Raphael Cohen, a poet, local publisher and judge, said in a statement.
The Youth Poet Laureate competition, which is meant to recognize and honor youth expression, is in its second year. It is hosted by the Oakland Public Library's Teen Services Department, in partnership with Youth Speaks, ProArts Gallery, Oakland School for the Arts as well as some community partners.
"This contest celebrates Oakland's visionaries," said Amy Sonnie, teen outreach librarian at Oakland Public Library. "These young voices are shaping the present of our city and building a more vibrant future for the city of Oakland."
There is secure funding for at least one more year of the competition and Sonnie added that she hopes it will continue for years to come.
"We work with numerous schools and do community appearances to inspire more young writers to pick up a pen and speak their truth," Sonnie said. "My best hope for this contest is that we'll be able to continue doing that year after year."