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1st Salinas Youth Poet Laureate: Miguél Angel Frias



Miguél Angel Frias, AKA “The Poet,” was named the first Salinas Youth Poet Laureate on September 12, 2013 at the Salinas Performing Arts Center, Salinas High School.

He was awarded the $1,000 prize in response to his performance of “Poem No. 2,” an emotional, autobiographical work.
Miguél, 17, is a student of Salinas Community School.Those wishing to send him a note of congratulations may address:
Miguel Angel Frias, Salinas Youth Poet Laureate
c/o Gary Vincent
Alternative Education
901 Blanco Circle
Salinas, CA 93901

A follow-up story by Claudia Melendez Salinas,  “Young Salinas poet embarks on salvation quest: Art a boost to city image,” was published as the top page 1 story in the November 18, 2013 Monterey County Herald.

An enthusiastic audience was present to mark this unique literary occasion in the city’s 141-year history.

Eduardo Vasquez - Salinas Youth Poet Laureate 2013 runner-up

Eduardo Vasquez, a student of Alisal High School, was awarded a certificate as  runner-up.

As his poem, “Dear Failure” attests, coming in second won’t slow Eduardo down!

Congrats to all the Salinas youth who participated in the Youth Poet Laureate competition. California’s Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, one of the judges, paid heartfelt tribute to Salinas youth with his remarks and with a Spanish-English poem he’d written for them as well.  James B. Golden, the first Salinas Poet Laureate, was also present and served as another of the judges. Garland Thompson served as Master of Ceremonies.

Jay Dunn of the Salinas Californian was present shooting video (with a much better video camera option than my phone!), so check the Californian for Jay’s videos:

* * * * *

Live or go to school in Salinas? Are you 13- to 19-years old? You might become the first Salinas Youth Poet Laureate. BTW, there’s a $1,000 prize!

This competition is free (no fee to enter).

For some people, like BMX rider Bryan Perez, bicycling inspires art.

Maybe for you, bicycling inspires poetry writing!
September 12, 7 p.m, Salinas Performing Arts Center,
Salinas High School, 726 S Main Street,  Salinas.
Click on image to enlarge.

Salinas Youth Poet Laureate 9-12-13

Whether you write poems about bicycling or about any other topic…

And whether you start your poetry-writing on a phone or other electronic device (like the girl above), or with paper and pencil, or in the soil with a stick, or perhaps by singing or rapping the words …

However you get started at writing a poem, just begin!

All styles of poetry are welcome. Judges of this first Salinas Youth Poet Laureate competition will be  Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate, and James B. Golden, Salinas Poet Laureate.

The poet selected as the first-ever Salinas Youth Poet Laureate will represent Salinas for a one-year term. Who says youth don’t have a voice?

To enter, or to ask questions:

Contact Sheila Molinari, Salinas Library Community Services Department.


Phone 831-758-7217

On Twitter @SalinasYPL

On Facebook

Can’t reach Sheila right away? You may also contact Salinas Youth Poet Laureate program coordinator Garland Thompson at Salinas Library; phone 831–758-7311 or email:

(Below photo gallery are contest rules and a few more details.)

Hmmm…sounds pretty worthwhile to see if I can pop out a few lines of poetry….

“Thousand-dollar prize?” Maybe this Salinas Valley scenery can inspire some poetry writing…

When I see empty bike racks on the Hartnell campus, that inspires me to pen a poem about why so many people are fuelish enough to drive cars, even when they don’t need to–and when they know about climate change!

Pedaling my neighborhood, I see sights and hear sounds that can get my creativity flowing. The inspiration just may come that could bring me the big prize!

IMG_3017 (1024x1010)

Agreed! The buzz of riding can be very inspirational.

[Photo directly above and below courtesy of  Salinas High School Cowboy Racing Mountain Bike Team.]

We may not have given a lot of thought to poetry-writing before, but we’re considering it now….

Yeah, some Salinas bike rides–like this Burrito Bike Ride–are pretty inspirational. That whole sense of community thing got me thinking. And maybe I can knock out a few poems about it for this Salinas Youth Poet Laureate competition….

Burrito Ride 5-19-13 Salinas - here boys at the lead

Teen romance can be pretty inspirational too!

This wasn’t exactly where I was planning to spend many months of my teen years, but hey, if you can make lemonade out of lemons, maybe I can make poetry out of my time here too.

Contest rules, posted by Salinas Youth Poet Laureate on Facebook 9/11/13:

– Contestants can read 1 to 3 poems of theirs (5-7 minutes please) that show originality, creative risk-taking, excellence, and authenticity

– All forms and styles of poetry & spoken word are welcome

– No props or music allowed

– Contestants will be judged on content and performance by a diverse panel of judges including the California State, and Salinas Adult, Poet Laureates: Juan Felipe Herrera and James B. Golden

– The judges will give each contestant a score from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest or “perfect” score. They will be encouraged to use one decimal place in order to avoid a tie. Each contestant will get four scores that will be added together for their final score.

– Bilingual poetry is welcome:
•Contestants that want to present poems completely in another language need to let Sheila Molinari know before the contest (831-758-7217:

– If the winner can’t complete their full term, the first runner up will be asked to take their place

– Prize money will be awarded to the winner in two payments: half when they win, and the remaining half at the end of their term (September 2014)

Garland at (831) 238-9714; — at Salinas High School Performing Arts Center.

Note: This event was postponed from May to September 2013.

Below are a few details that remain relevant.

The Salinas Youth Poet Laureate program is managed by the Salinas Youth Commission, and the Salinas Library & Community Services Department.
Below was an update from the Salinas Youth Poet Laureate Facebook page, posted May 31, 2013:

Hi, everyone. This is an official Salinas YPL announcement to let you know that the competition has been postponed until September. We want to reach out and get as many kids in Salinas involved as possible, but we’re finding that it’s been very difficult to reach kids during this time of the school year when they’re studying for finals, getting ready to get out of school as well as going on summer vacation.

So we’re going to take this time to build on the momentum that’s already begun. We want to make sure that as many young people in Salinas ages 13 to 19 know about this opportunity as possible and have a chance to try out to be the first Salinas Youth Poet Laureate, and take home the $1000 prize goes with it! You’ll even get a cool poet laureate medal that you can show off to all your family and friends. You’ll also have opportunities to perform here in Salinas and be mentored by the Salinas adult poet laureate James B. Golden, who also wants to help our youth poet laureate get published….

We’re working on a date now, and as soon as we know, we’ll make an announcement about it. Stay tuned!

We’ll be posting information on our Facebook page, so please share it with all your friends and tell as many people about it as possible. By doing so you’ll be helping us to build awareness, and support for the project.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Salinasypl. We’ll be tweeting too!

FAQs from Salinas Youth Poet Laureate Social Media accounts:

On Facebook, 5/21/13…

Question: What does “no repeat poems allowed” mean?

Answer:  It means contestants can’t read the same poem more than once in the competition.

Want to enter your poetry in the Salinas Youth Poet Laureate  competition?

Contact Sheila Molinari, Salinas Library Community Services Department.


Phone 831-758-7217

You may also enter by contacting Salinas Youth Poet Laureate program coordinator Garland Thompson at Salinas Library; phone 831–758-7311 or email:

On Twitter @SalinasYPL

On Facebook



This post was published on 21 August 2013. One or more changes last made to this post on 18 November 2013.

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