A Poet’s Odyssey: Bridgette Yang on the Bay Area, Spoken Word, Film, & Being Named Valedictorian

image of poet Bridgette Yang

In her senior year of high school, eighteen year old Bridgette Yang wrote the words that would change her life.

“there is a girl in a mouth of a cave.
awakes to the sound of something calling her name.”

Valedictorian of her graduating class, Media Studies senior Bridgette Yang is a multi-hyphenate artist. She is a spoken word poet, co-founder of USF’s poetry club Spaces In Between, co-creator of The Lighthouse Keepers Zine, and the Narrative Producer for USFtv. She ended up in San Francisco purely by serendipity.

Yang said she could have never pictured this life as she sat writing those lines as a high-schooler in her hometown of Los Angeles. Her favorite poem she’s written to date, “Ocean’s Daughter,” is an embrace of this uncertainty.

“When I was first writing this, it was for a free write in a writing workshop,” she said. “During that time, I was feeling very, very anxious about the future. I didn’t know where I was going to college; I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. In it, I use the ocean as an extended metaphor, talking about my fears of the future. But then, it became a hopeful piece. I always look back on it whenever I’m really anxious about life.”

image of a page from a bookIt also has a warm place in her heart because it was her first work to be recognized by the broader poetry community. Yang performed this spoken word piece at many events around Los Angeles, most notably in 2019 at The Getty Center alongside John Legend.“That was a really, really crazy moment! I never thought that I’d be able to perform the words I wrote in my childhood bedroom in front of people who are so well known,” she said.

Yang has had a long love affair with the written word. “I grew up always loving reading and writing,” she said. “I didn’t really get into poetry until early high school. I found out about spoken word poetry through watching all these videos online. It was a kind of literary form that impacted me in a way that nothing else has ever before.”

After graduating from high school, Yang planned on moving to New York City. Due to financial reasons, she stayed in California and found her way to San Francisco. In her freshman year at USF, she admittedly did not love it. Attempting to transfer to another University, the COVID-19 pandemic hindered her plans, causing her to move back to Southern California. “Going home was actually kind of a blessing for me,” Yang said. “But, it was hard. I realized that if what I write is about my life, and I’m not living my life, then there’s nothing to write about. It was very hard to get inspired.”

Returning to USF in the fall of 2021 for her senior year, Yang found new excitement and motivation. She became involved with the Bay Area organization Youth Speaks to host poetry workshops, has performed poetry at events on campus, such as the Global Women’s Rights Forum and the International Studies & Students for Immigration Reform’s Coffee Hour, and has had her work featured in the San Francisco Foghorn.

Yang has also worked collaboratively with other poets in the Bay. In January, she started The Lighthouse Keepers Zine with her friends Brandon Gagante and Allluv (Nolan) Noluv. “The three of us are all really good friends and involved in similar art forms,” Yang said. “We were saying how we needed a space to keep us accountable to create new art.” The first edition of their Zine was published in April, and they plan to make it a monthly endeavor, resuming in the fall.

In another collaborative effort, Yang and Gagante founded Spaces In Between, an on-campus poetry club in January of 2022. They host writing workshops and provide performance opportunities for student spoken word artists.

Yang was also named USFtv’s Narrative Producer in March of 2022. Her first short film, Ride or Die, debuted last month and she is currently developing her second.

While Yang never intended on staying in San Francisco, she said it has given her opportunities she never could have foreseen. “I do believe that everything happens for a reason,” she said. “ I love the city. I love the life I have now.”

Working hard to finish her academic career early, Yang was named Valedictorian of the USF class of 2022. She plans to make a career in the entertainment industry in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, combining her passions for film and spoken word.

“I see poetry and film as very related for me, but at the same time completely different. I feel like with poetry, I’m diving into a world I already know. I’m kind of just exploring it,” she said. “Versus with film, I feel like I’m creating a new world and seeing where that takes me.”

Follow Bridgette at bridgetteyang.com and @o.ceansdaughter on Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Bridgette Yang.

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