California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

March 24, 2014Caitlin Fitzwater

Marin County's Shayna Maci Warner Named California Poetry Out Loud Champion

Haley Walker from Monterey County and Wyatt Price from Nevada County were first and second runners-up in the state finals

Sacramento -

 Shayna Maci Warner, a senior at Marin School of the Arts in Marin County, took first place in the 2014 California state finals of Poetry Out Loud and will represent the Golden State in Washington, D.C. at the national finals next month. Shayna recited Ode for the American Dead in Asia by Thomas McGrath, On Monsieur's Departure by Queen Elizabeth I, and Baudelaire by Delmore Schwartz.

After graduating this year, Shayna hopes to pursue a major that will allow her to become a Professional Storyteller, as she believes "storytelling transforms our easily distracted, speed-of-light communication into something more tangible, visceral, and honest."

Haley Walker, a senior at Pacific Grove High School in Monterey County, was the first runner-up and will represent California in the national finals if Shayna is unable to attend. Wyatt Price, a junior at Nevada Union High School in Nevada County, was the second runner-up.

View high resolution photos of Shayna, Haley, and Wyatt at the Poetry Out Loud State Finals:

This year marks the ninth time the California Arts Council has produced the annual competition - the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 40,000 students in 35 California counties participating. The program encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. The 2014 State Final judges included California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, filmmaker Christopher Coppola, and poet and arts leader Frances Phillips.

"The California Poetry Out Loud state final is an extremely competitive contest, and all the county champions are remarkable young men and women," said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. "California's extraordinary diversity and creativity is well represented in these talented young men and women who participated today, and we are delighted that Shayna will represent California in the national finals."

The Competitors

After two rounds, fourteen semifinalists competed for the title of champion, including (in alphabetical order):

  • Victoria Baca, Contra Costa County
  • Joshua Bjurman, Santa Clara County
  • Elizabeth Ebrahimy, Siskiyou County
  • Nicolas Krell, Humboldt County
  • Jibril Kyser, Sacramento County
  • Alex Luu , Los Angeles County
  • Wyatt Price, Nevada County
  • Connor Ricketts, El Dorado County
  • Kaitlyn Sackett, Sonoma County
  • Maya Thomas, Placer County
  • Haley Walker, Monterey County
  • Shayna Maci Warner, Marin County
  • Alex Wingfield, San Luis Obispo County
  • Teresa Woods, Tuolumne County

A list of all of the county winners, their high schools, and the poems they chose can be found at

About Poetry Out Loud

The competition took place on the evening of Sunday, March 23, at the Sacramento Sheraton (Round 1), and the morning of Monday, March 24 (Rounds 2 and 3), on the state Senate floor. Video recordings of Monday's competition will be made available soon at

The California state final is the culminating competition in California between county winners who have shown their merit in the classroom, school, district, and county (a pyramid competition structure similar to the spelling bee).

Shayna Maci Warner, as the California Poetry Out Loud champion, receives $200 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She will go on to compete in Washington, DC, later this spring, and her school will receive $500 for books. Haley Walker, as the runner-up, receives $100 from the NEA, and $200 for books at her school.

The California Arts Council's 2014 California Poetry Out Loud state finals were sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and PAH Nation.

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The Mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity.
Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Wylie Aitken, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Christopher Coppola, Donn K. Harris, Charmaine Jefferson, William Turner, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at


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