2023 California Poetry Out Loud State Finals to Be Held March 19

SACRAMENTO, CA – High-school students from 10 counties across California will compete as state finalists in a recitation contest at the 18th annual California Poetry Out Loud State Finals on March 19, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Hosted by California Poet Laureate Lee Herrick from Fresno, the live event will take place virtually; members of the public are encouraged to tune in to watch on Zoom.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation and administered statewide by the California Arts Council, Poetry Out Loud encourages high-school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Participants master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

California’s Poetry Out Loud is the largest event of its kind in the U.S. and has grown steadily since its inception. The 2023 competition series encompasses 50 counties, 223 schools, and 514 teachers, reaching nearly 14,418 students statewide.

Two rounds of pre-recorded poem recitation videos were initially submitted by student champions from 48 counties across California. These videos were assessed and scored by a team of judges. These score tallies have determined the ten 2023 California Poetry Out Loud state finalists, who will go on to perform a third and final round of live recitations via the March 19 Zoom event:

  • Anaiya Asomugha – Los Angeles County
  • Henry Aaron Greber – Marin County
  • Karina Torres – Monterey County
  • Colette St. Aubin – Napa County
  • Olivia Le – Orange County
  • Alex Yue – Sacramento County
  • Faith Bakhos – San Bernardino County
  • Selina Xu – Santa Clara County
  • Chelle T. Servais – Sonoma County
  • Natalie Harris – Tuolumne County

The final tally of scores for the live recitations will determine this year’s state champion, an honor that includes a $200 cash prize, $500 toward literary materials for the winner’s school, and an all-expense paid trip to and a chance to win the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, held May 8-10 in Washington, D.C. Last year, California’s champion secured the top spot in the national contest.

For the fifth consecutive year, California’s county champions were also invited to submit original written works at the state level through the Poetry Ourselves creative writing contest. Winners will be announced at Sunday’s live event, and the students will recite their original works for those in attendance. The winning contestants’ poems will be featured on the California Poetry Out Loud website.

“Highlighting these students from all across the state as they embark on a journey of creative self-discovery and expression is an opportunity we are deeply grateful to support at the Arts Council,” said California Arts Council Executive Director Jonathan Moscone. “It is a profound inspiration to witness the young people of our state channeling their power through art, taking the written word, making it their own and bringing it to unique life.”

“Poetry Out Loud celebrates the art of poetry and the joyful experience of hearing it read aloud by our inspiring youth,” said California Poet Laureate and Poetry Out Loud event host Lee Herrick. “Their bravery and talent are impressive and admirable. The future of poetry is bright with these students leading the way.”

The 2023 California Poetry Out Loud State Finals are free and open to the public, accessible on Zoom via phone or web link. For more details about the virtual event and the state POL program, visit the program website at capoetryoutloud.org.

A list of all of the 2023 county champions, their high schools, and counties can also be found here.

Participating Counties
Finalists from the following counties competed in at the 2023 California Poetry Out Loud State Finals: Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Inyo, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.

About Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud inspires in high-school students the confidence to make themselves heard, using one of the most powerful tools at their disposal—art. Students are given the opportunity to interact with the words of the masters through recitation, building a relationship with the works and creating a sense of shared ownership branded by their own technique of volume, pitch, pace, and personal point of view.

The California Poetry Out Loud State Finals is the culminating competition between county winners who have shown their merit in the classroom, school, district, and county (a pyramid competition structure similar to the spelling bee). The state champion receives $200 and a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national Poetry Out Loud finals, paid for by the National Endowment from the Arts. The winner’s school will also receive $500 for library materials. The State Finals runner-up will receive a $100 cash prize, with $200 awarded to their school for book purchases. Competing at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals presents the opportunity for approximately $50,000 in scholarship funds and related winnings.

Live Virtual Event
Details for attending Sunday’s competition are available at the following link: https://www.capoetryoutloud.org/finals.

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Members of the California Arts Council include: Consuelo Montoya, Chair; Vicki Estrada, Vice Chair; Gerald Clarke; Caleb Duarte; Ellen Gavin; Leah Goodwin; Alex Israel; Phil Mercado; Roxanne Messina Captor; Nicola Miner; and Olivia Raynor. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov.

The California Arts Council is committed to increasing the accessibility of its online content. For language and accessibility assistance, visit https://arts.ca.gov/about/about-us/language-communications-assistance. To read this announcement in Spanish, please use the website’s Google Translate tool by clicking the “Translate” link in the upper righthand corner of this page.

El Consejo de las Artes de California se compromete a aumentar la accesibilidad de sus contenidos en línea. Para obtener ayuda con el idioma y la accesibilidad, visite https://arts.ca.gov/about/about-us/language-communications-assistancePara leer este anuncio en español, utilice la herramienta Google Translate del sitio web haciendo clic en el enlace “Traducir” situado en la esquina superior derecha de esta página.

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