Oceana High School senior Madeleine Hur has been named the first Daly City Youth Poet Laureate.
In partnership with the National Youth Poet Laureate Program, “Urban Word,” and Daly City Public Library, the program celebrates teen poets, ages 13 to 18, who live or attend school in Daly City and show a commitment to social justice.
“I was really shocked,” said Hur. “I wasn’t expecting it. This was the first time I had written poems for a specific event. It was really encouraging for me. This is something that I enjoy and can use to make change in my society and in my community.” ‘
When Hur began writing poetry it was mostly about little things like the weather and nature.
“When I first heard about the Daly City Youth Poet Laureate, I decided that I wanted to use my poetry for something that was more impactful so I wrote about things I was passionate about,” said Hur. “The theme of my portfolio was about sexual harassment and the kind of society that young women grow up in today.”
In addition to representing Daly City at community events, Hur received a $5,000 cash award and publication in the National Youth Poet Laureate annual anthology by Penmanship Books.
“Madeleine is a sophisticated and thoughtful writer,” said Hur’s advanced placement English language and composition teacher, Dakota Millwee, in an email to the Review. “She has a talent for being able to shift between formal academic writing and creative writing. She has taken on several (Advanced Placement) classes during her time at Oceana while balancing other extracurricular activities with grace and professionalism.”
Hur also represents her school as a student trustee for the Jefferson Union High School District and is part of the Associated Student Body Congress. Many large decisions that impact the school community are decided through the Academic Council where administrators, teachers, students, and parents and guardians come together to discuss how to implement a variety of decisions. Hur has consistently gone to Academic Council in addition to her senior course load.
“Madeleine's strengths as a student and writer come from her inner strength as a person,” said Millwee. “Understandably, seniors at our school are stressed when they think about applying to universities, keeping their grades up and passing their senior capstone project. Despite these challenges, Madeleine comes to class each day emanating kindness, optimism and brings an open mind to just about everything she does. Her work ethic and receptiveness are key strengths that I think will serve her well in the future.”
Millwee oversees a weekly creative writing club at Oceana High School and Hur is an active member. In the club, students learn about different kinds of writing and have space to write and share.
“I had never really shared my poetry with anyone other than my mom, so the creative writing club really got me out of my comfort zone to share with other people and hear from other people and see different types of writing,” said Hur. “It’s taught me to open up and to get to know people and not be closed-minded about my writing.”
Lately Hur has been writing poetry about climate change and is working to empower student voices in the school district. She is in the process of applying to college where she wants to continue writing poetry and study political science and social justice.