Youth poet
Maram Haddad, a junior at Pacific Grove High School, is the 2024-25 Monterey County Youth Poet Laureate. (Contributed)

MONTEREY COUNTY — After a competitive selection process, the Arts Council for Monterey County (Arts4MC) has announced Maram Haddad as the 2024-25 Monterey County Youth Poet Laureate (YPL).

Starting in May, Haddad will serve a one-year term where she will participate in various county events promoting poetry and literacy and receive an honorarium of $1,000. She is currently a junior at Pacific Grove High School.

The Youth Poet Laureate program asked applicants to submit a resume, a statement of civic engagement, a statement of social justice and five original poems.

A panel of judges evaluated the submissions based on content, theme, voice and structure. They also considered the community, civic and social impact, and engagement of the submissions to determine the young person who will represent Monterey County as Youth Poet Laureate.

The panel consisted of Rachelle Escamilla, Monterey County Poet Laureate; Chrissy Hernandez, poet and professor; and Jesus Valenzuela, Community Engagement Manager for the City of Soledad.

Additional recognitions include runner-up Ariana Diaz, senior at Rancho San Juan High School; and honorable mentions Anixia Davila, senior at Gonzales High School; Dania Garcia-Castillo, senior at Alisal High School; Ieleen Li, junior at Salinas High School; and Vivian Mata, senior at Salinas High School.

Jacquie Atchison, executive director of Arts4MC, expressed her appreciation for the Youth Poet Laureate program’s growth.

“It’s wonderful to see the program expanding,” Atchison said. “Mahi Shah, our first YPL, did an outstanding job, and we’re looking forward to Maram’s term with great enthusiasm.”

The community is invited to a special commencement ceremony celebrating this appointment on Monday, April 29, at the Marina Library Community Room at 5:30 p.m. Attendees will be able to hear original poems from the finalists and the new Youth Poet Laureate at this free event.

The Monterey County Youth Poet Laureate is a program organized by the Arts Council for Monterey County in collaboration with Urban Word, the creator of the National Youth Poet Laureate program and movement. This initiative acknowledges and showcases the voices of young people who are dedicated to artistic excellence, community involvement and social change. 

The position of Youth Poet Laureate has been officially recognized by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors through a county resolution that acknowledges the importance of this role. This special recognition will take place Tuesday, April 30, at 10 a.m. at the County Government Center, 168 W. Alisal St., in Salinas.

To learn more about the Monterey County Youth Poet Laureate, visit

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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