Monterey County Poetry Out Loud
Anixia Davila from Gonzales High School receives first place in the 2024 Monterey County Poetry Out Loud competition on Feb. 3. She now advances to the state competition in March. (Contributed)

GONZALES — Gonzales High School senior Anixia Davila was named the champion of the 2024 Monterey County Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition.

Students from seven local high schools competed in this year’s event, which took place Feb. 3 at the CSUMB Alumni and Visitor’s Center in Seaside.

The Arts Council for Monterey County (Arts4MC) hosted the annual contest, during which students recited selected poems from an anthology of more than 1,200 poems. Each performance was evaluated by the judges based on criteria, such as voice clarity, articulation, accuracy and evidence of understanding.

After two rounds of performances, Davila earned first place to become the 2024 Monterey County POL champion.

“I had so much fun, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It was a great experience.” 

Trinity Becerra from Rancho San Juan High School and Aurelia Serpa from Pacific Grove High School tied for second place.

Monterey County Poetry Out Loud
Participants in the 2024 Monterey County Poetry Out Loud competition gather afterward on Feb. 3. (Contributed)

This year’s Poetry Out Loud journey began last fall, when local student groups at each high school competed for a chance to advance to the countywide competition. The runners-up and finalists from this round were invited to perform at last Saturday’s event.

“Each student brought their whole selves to the stage. You could really tell that they did a lot to prepare for it,” said Rosemary Soto, board member for Arts4MC. “It takes a lot of courage to come up here and perform in front of a crowd, and it was beautiful. I really encourage other students to get involved and participate in this event.”

As the winner of the competition, Davila was awarded the champion title and a $150 gift card, while those in second place received $100 gift cards. Participants who didn’t place, as well as all runners-up received a $25 gift card.

Davila has qualified for the California Poetry Out Loud contest, scheduled for March 17-18. The winner of the California competition will receive a cash prize of $200 and will advance to the national finals in the spring.

“We extend our special thanks to all the schools and teachers who attended the event this year and we eagerly await the next competition, which will take place during the upcoming fall season,” stated Arts4MC in a news release.

For more information about the California Poetry Out Loud contest, visit

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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