Mia Ronn of Los Angeles County Is the 2022 California Poetry Out Loud State Champion

SACRAMENTO, CA – Mia Ronn of Los Angeles County has been named this year’s California Poetry Out Loud state champion. The 16-year-old junior from The Archer School for Girls took first place in the statewide recitation competition held virtually last week. 

The 2022 State Finals marked the 17th year of the Poetry Out Loud program for high school students, which encourages youth to learn about poetry through memorization and performance. Students representing 43 counties competed for the state title. For the third consecutive year, students participated in a virtual competition for the finals in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. A program listing of all county champions is available here.

Recitations from Mia included “the world is about to end and my grandparents are in love” by Kara Jackson, “Two Guitars” by Victor Hernandez Cruz, and “No, I wasn’t meant to love and be loved” by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Her teachers are Kathleen Bergen and Tracy Poverstein.

Mia shared her love for poetry as a participant of the Poetry Out Loud program: “I am thrilled to be a part of Poetry Out Loud. My biggest passions in life are performance and the literary arts, and to combine these passions is a dream! The arts are a place of expression, growth, understanding of others, and connection, and Poetry Out Loud brilliantly fosters all these facets of creativity. POL provides a place of catharsis and growth for young people, and I am honored to be a part of the process,” she said.

Shreya Nagunuri, a senior at Granite Bay High School in Placer County, was runner-up in this year’s competition. Third place went to Calliope Klemme, a senior at Clear Lake High School in Lake County. 

Additional finalists who scored among the top recitation submissions included students representing another 11 counties from across the state:

  • Samantha Albiani, Sacramento County, Elk Grove High School
  • Mistura Bankole, Napa County, American Canyon High School 
  • Esha Bansiya, Alameda County, BASIS Independent Fremont
  • Sophie Conner, Nevada County, Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning
  • Maeve, San Mateo County, Capuchino High School
  • Kelsi Havercroft, El Dorado County, Union Mine High School
  • Angelo Hillstock, San Benito County, San Benito High School
  • Rebecca Hungerford, Calaveras County, Bret Harte High School
  • Maegan Matchett, Mariposa County, Mariposa County High School
  • Marina Steinkamp, Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz High School
  • Sofia Storey, Marin County, The Marin School of the Arts at Novato High

For the fourth consecutive year, California’s county champions were invited to submit original written works at the state level through the Poetry Ourselves creative writing contest. The winning piece, “Crossed and Cautious,” was written by Santa Barbara County Poetry Out Loud champion Sierra Mayoral, a 17-year-old senior at Carpinteria High School. Fifteen-year-old Emma Hwang, a sophomore at Pinewood High School in Santa Clara County, and 17-year-old Charlotte Burks, a junior at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno County, were tied for runner-up with their submissions titled “Wheelchair” and “Mama’s Porcelain,” respectively. County champions Sidney Regelbrugge of Point Arena High School in Mendocino County and Evelyn Jaime of Dinuba High School in Tulare County both received honorable mentions for their original works, “Questions Asked in the Midst of Midnight” and “Pluto.” All five contestants’ poems will be featured on the California Poetry Out Loud website.

“Every year of Poetry Out Loud is a testament to the commitment and passion for the literary arts from our youth,” said California Arts Council Executive Director Anne Bown-Crawford. “The voices in Poetry Out Loud are vibrant and resonant.  The future of the arts in California is in good hands with these creative hearts and minds.”

About Poetry Out Loud

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, administered by the California Arts Council, 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 well-respected poets 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 a spelling bee). California’s Poetry Out Loud is the largest event of its kind in the U.S. and has grown steadily since its inception.

Poetry Ourselves

The California Poetry Out Loud program also incorporates a creative writing component of the competition, Poetry Ourselves, offered for the fourth year in a row. County champions are invited to submit an original written poem of no more than 50 lines, judged anonymously by a guest judge. The winner receives $100; poems by the winner, runner-up, and honorable mention recipients will be recognized and featured on the California Poetry Out Loud website.

About the 2022 State Finals

As a precautionary measure in response to the ongoing public health crisis surrounding COVID-19, the California Arts Council elected to hold the 17th annual California Poetry Out Loud State Finals as a virtual event for the third year.  

Three rounds of poem recitation videos were submitted by students to be assessed and scored by the judges. Final score tallies determine the 2022 California Poetry Out Loud state champion, an honor that includes a $200 cash prize and $500 toward literary materials for the winner’s school. The state runner-up also receives a $100 cash prize and $200 for their school’s literary materials.

Due to the ongoing safety concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Endowment for the Arts has decided the National Finals Competition will take place virtually later this spring. The formal announcement on the national Poetry Out Loud website reads as follows: “In order to ensure the safety and health of participating students and staff, the 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Finals will take place virtually in lieu of holding them on-site in Washington, DC. All 55 state and jurisdictional finalists will participate in the national semifinals that will stream on Sunday, May 1st, with the top nine students advancing to the national finals, that will stream on Sunday, June 5th. Both the semifinals and finals will be streamed at arts.gov.”

For more details about the 2022 California Poetry Out Loud State Finals, its history, and a list of this year’s county champions, please visit the California Poetry Out Loud website at capoetryoutloud.org.

Participating Counties

Finalists from the following 43 counties competed in the 2022 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, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, and Yuba.

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The California Arts Council is a state agency with a mission of strengthening arts, culture, and creative expression as the tools to cultivate a better California for all. It supports local arts infrastructure and programming statewide through grants, initiatives, and services. The California Arts Council envisions a California where all people flourish with universal access to and participation in the arts.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Lilia Gonzáles-Chávez, Chair; Consuelo Montoya, Vice Chair; Gerald Clarke, Vicki Estrada, Jodie Evans, Ellen Gavin, Alex Israel, Phil Mercado, Roxanne Messina Captor, and Jonathan Moscone. 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.

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