NEW YORK (AP) – A new freshman at Stanford University has been named the new National Youth Poet Laureate.
Alexandra Huynh, 18, is a second generation Vietnamese American from Sacramento, California who sees poetry as both a means of self-expression and social justice.
“I spend a lot of time in my head, so poetry is kind of a survival mechanism for me,” Huynh said in a May 20 phone interview from his home. “I couldn’t move around the world with the same clarity if I hadn’t worked on the page first.”
His one-year appointment was announced on May 20 in a virtual ceremony presented by the Kennedy Center and literary arts and development organization Urban Word, which created the National Young Laureates Program. in 2017. In her new position, she will be visiting students and organizing workshops across the country.
One of her goals is to pass on her own experiences to others.
Huynh was selected from four regional finalists for a position first held by Amanda Gorman, who rose to international celebrity in January after reading at President Joe Biden’s inauguration and for Huynh has become an inspiration.
“His trajectory changed what I thought was possible for a poet,” she says, noting that Gorman appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine and read this year’s Super Bowl. “She encouraged me to dream big.”
Huynh says she’s been writing song lyrics since she was 7 and got serious about poetry in high school, especially after performing at a local poetry slam and feeling the added power. words when spoken aloud. She cites Ocean Vuong and Diana Khoi Nguyen among her favorite writers, and hopes to be able to publish her own work and have it translated into Vietnamese, her “mother tongue”.
“Vietnamese itself is a very poetic language,” she said. “In Vietnamese culture, poems are spoken every day. These are references to pop culture. For me, having poetry in my life never felt like going against the grain.
Words are so natural to her that at university she plans to study engineering rather than literature as she doesn’t need a classroom to encourage her to read. At Stanford, she hopes to challenge herself to think in a way she didn’t have before and develop ideas “across disciplines.”