California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

April 29, 2015Caitlin Fitzwater

California State Poetry Champion Advances to Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C.

Tuolumne County high school sophomore Levi Lakota Lowe is the first-ever California champion to advance to the final round of national competition

Washington, D.C. -

 Levi Lakota Lowe, a sophomore at Sonora Union High School in Tuolumne County, took first place in the 2015 California State Poetry Out Loud Finals last month and is representing the Golden State in Washington, D.C. at the national finals this week.

Yesterday, Levi competed in the National Semifinals where he was named a top-three finalist among seventeen high school students from the upper northwestern and western states.

Levi is one of only nine national finalists who will compete for the title of 2015 National Poetry Out Loud Champion today at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time. This is the first time in the ten-year history of Poetry Out Loud that a California State Champion has advanced to the final round of national competition.

More than 365,000 high school students from across the nation participated in the 2015 Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest, with only 53 State Champions from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands advancing to the national competition in Washington, D.C. 

A live webcast of today's National Finals can be viewed on the National Endowment for the Arts website beginning at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time:

(Pictured: Levi Lakota Lowe recites during the California State Poetry Out Loud Finals on March 16, 2015 in Sacramento. Photo by Jay R. Hart)

In the semifinals yesterday, Levi recited "A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown" by Walt Whitman and ‘'They Feed They Lion'' by Philip Levine. Levi then advanced to the regional finals to recite "The Blues Don't Change" by Al Young.

This year marks the tenth time the California Arts Council has produced the annual state Poetry Out Loud competition, the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 30,000 students in 40 California counties participating. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

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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 Donn K. Harris, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Nashormeh Lindo, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at

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