Maui Arts & Entertainment

2023 Hawaiʻi and National Youth Poet Laureate selected during Maui event

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Corina Yi of O‘ahu’s Mililani High School received the state honor, while Salome Agbaroji announced as National Youth Poet Laureate. PC: Kiakona Ordonez.

The Maui Arts & Cultural Center announced the selection of Corina Yi as Hawaiʻi’s third Youth Poet Laureate. She is a high school senior at Oʻahu’s Mililani High School. As part of the event, the National Youth Poet Laureate was also named, Salome Agbaroji of Los Angeles representing the Western Region.

The announcement was made during a livestreamed event that honored a special local and national collaboration between the MACC and Urban Word, who presents the National Youth Poet Laureate.

The National Youth Poet Laureate Program identifies and celebrates young poets who exhibit a commitment to artistic excellence, civic engagement, youth leadership and social justice.


Dr. Moira Pirsch, Education Director at the MACC said of the event, “Hawaiʻi’s third Youth Poet Laureate ceremony marks the continuation of an important moment in history for the MACC, the state of Hawaiʻi and the United States. The poems and stories shared in the event show us the great diversity and power of Hawaiʻi’s youth – to tell us who they are, what is important to them, and what we all need to prioritize moving forward.”

This year, the MACC’s Education Department spent the past several months working with dozens of teachers and over 1,000 students statewide to encourage and prepare them for this opportunity. Finalist participants in this program ranged in age from ten to nineteen.

For the State, the top five finalists, in addition to Ms. Yi, were Mika Hiroi, Ashley Jisue Hong, Miya Peterson, and Nicole Dao, all students of Oʻahu’s Punahou School.


Additional youth poets who had qualified as finalists are Malia Cole of Carden Academy on Maui, Alicia Pearson, Esther Chan, Julia Leong, Katherine (Kate) Taylor, and Rachel Waggoner of O‘ahu’s Punahou School, and junior laureates Mikaela Cooper of Maui’s Seabury Hall, Vaiva Peroff of Waikīkī Elementary and Korion Williams of Oʻahu’s Stevenson Middle School.

For the national Youth Poet Laureate designation, the regional poets who competed were Salome Agbaroji from the Western Region, Charlotte Yeung from the Midwest Region, Cydney Brown from the Northeast Region, and Annika Eragam from the Southern Region.

The event was livestreamed on the MACC’s YouTube channel, and can be viewed above.

The development of a Hawaiʻi Youth Poet Laureate program at the MACC is the first collaboration between an arts organization and Urban Word, an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization that initiated the National Youth Poet Laureate Program. The organization collaborates with local youth literary arts organizations across the country to provide uncensored platforms for youth voice. It is championed by the leading national literary organizations, including the Library of Congress, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Foundation, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Special guests for the event, offering performances and some mentoring messages to the finalists, are Kalehua Fung, Hawai‘i’s second Youth Poet Laureate, Brandy Nālani McDougall, Hawai‘i’s State Poet Laureate and Michael Cirelli, executive director of Urban Word and the founder the National Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Emcees of the event were Travis Kaululā‘au Thompson and Dr. Camea Davis. Born and raised in Kalihi, Oʻahu, Travis T. is a nationally ranked slam poet, spoken word artist, educator, and professional teaching artist for the MACC. Dr. Camea Davis is the Director of the Youth Poet Laureate Program and is a poet, educator and researcher at Georgia State University.

As the state’s most comprehensive nonprofit multi-disciplinary arts facility, more than 5 million adults and children have been served by the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s activities since 1994.


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