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Cennemi Diaz captivated the audience with her recitation of Nick Flynn’s "Cartoon Physics Part 1," winning the top prize at the 10th Annual L.A. County Poetry Out Loud contest held Feb. 1 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

Diaz set the stage by reciting Tony Hoagland’s poem "Personal" to capture first place, topping 16 other competing students from throughout the county. Click here for a video of the recitation by Diaz.

"I chose poems to give the message of child-like happiness we don’t have to give up," said Diaz, a senior at Robert A. Millikan High School, Long Beach Unified School District. "I was shocked when I turned 18. How did I become an adult so fast? It’s too sudden, too fast … I don’t have to grow up all at once."

LACOE organized Poetry Out Loud in partnership with the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition.

The California State Finals will be held March 12-13 in Sacramento. The National Finals will be held April 25-26 in Washington, D.C.

Click here for more information about Poetry Out Loud.

Photo: Shannon Wilkins, LACOE Visual and Performing Arts coordinator, poses with Cennemi Diaz (left) and runner-up Jillian Morris of Gretchen Whitney High School (ABC USD). Wilkins organized the event and presented the awards.

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