Meet Philadelphia's youth poet laureate Oyewumi Oyeniyi
Oyewumi Oyeniyi's name means royalty in the West African language of Yoruba — and now she's basically royalty in Philadelphia.
Driving the news: The 17-year-old senior at Cristo Rey High School fittingly wore a tiara when she was introduced this week as the city's youth poet laureate.
- She follows in the footsteps of one of her mentors, former poet laureate Trapeta Mayson.
Why it matters: Oyeniyi is now a cultural ambassador and the voice of Philadelphia youth in a yearlong role where she'll work with the Free Library of Philadelphia to create community programming.
- Plus, she'll get a scholarship, per WHYY.
Flashback: Oyeniyi, who began writing poetry at a young age, views the genre as a creative outlet that helps generate ideas for solving many systemic problems faced by Philadelphians.
What they're saying: Born in New York, Oyeniyi grew up in Philadelphia. She says poetry helped her sort through a tough upbringing.
- "When sirens are your lullaby, when your parents are fighting, when kids are getting thrown out of the house, I can sit down, read, write a poem, breathe," she told the Inquirer.
- Mayson told WHYY that Oyeniyi stood out as a student in one of her poetry workshops, calling her writing "exquisite."
The intrigue: Oyeniyi shared some of her prose during a ceremony announcing her crowning achievement, including an introspective letter that she wrote to herself, per WHYY.
- Do not cry
- Your vulnerability is a weakness
- Do not be shy
- You are unbreakable
- Do not show fear
- Protection is something you give not receive.
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