The concept of a Poet Laureate has been around for centuries, allowing a government or organization to celebrate a poet or author and feature their writing at special events. But the title of Youth Poet Laureate is not as old and storied, being awarded for the first time in 2017 to Amanda Gorman. Since then, we have seen a group of incredible young poets receive the acclaimed title for their writing.
The fifth and most recent recipient of the National Youth Poet Laureate status is Alexandra Huỳnh, an eighteen year old from Sacramento, California. Her poems highlight her Vietnamese heritage and bring light to social issues that Huỳnh is passionate about, including climate justice and bringing an end to anti-Asian violence. Her success is a true inspiration for young people who want to bring their personal histories to their art.
Alexandra Huỳnh says her love of writing began when she was a child, writing song lyrics in an attempt to see her own experiences in media. She also references the prevalence of poetry in Vietnamese culture and how that made her see poetry as a part of daily life.
Huỳnh says her poetry career became more serious when she was in high school after she attended a local poetry slam. She states that her participation in Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) showed her that her words had meaning, and that she wanted to do poetry for the rest of her life. Alexandra Huỳnh is currently an incoming student at Stanford, signaling that her academic and professional achievements are just getting started.
So much yet to come
Alexandra Huỳnh can serve as an inspiration for young women from all walks of life. Though her story may particularly resonate with immigrant populations and women of color, Huỳnh demonstrates that hard work and dedication can lead you to success, no matter your background.
Alexandra Huỳnh’s achievements remind us why it is so important to support marginalized communities. Many young women from immigrant communities aren’t afforded the proper resources or support to pursue their dreams in the way Huỳnh has been able to. Unfortunately, many young immigrants and women of color find it incredibly difficult to follow their dreams and passions into a career. That is why we donate to Justice in Motion, an organization fighting for justice and safety for migrants in the U.S. Programs like these help make it possible for second generation children like Amanda to achieve their full potential, despite the barriers set up against them. Wherever your aspirations lie, you deserve the ability to pursue them regardless of where you come from or what language you speak. Alexandra Huỳnh reminds us of the excellence that can be produced when young women are shown that their ideas matter.