In a little over two weeks’ time, nearly four dozen high-schoolers from across the state will join together in a partial takeover of downtown Sacramento. They’re headed to the Capital City to step up to the mic—competing at the California Poetry Out Loud State Finals.
This will be the 13th year that the California Arts Council has administered Poetry Out Loud and produced the state finals. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (and the brainchild of our current California Poet Laureate, Dana Gioia, during his time as NEA Chair), Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. California’s POL is the largest event of its kind in the U.S., and has held steady in the top tiers of participation and growth since its inception.
This year’s competition series encompasses 46 counties, 261 schools, and 783 teachers, reaching nearly 73,000 students statewide.
The excitement starts with Round 1, on Sunday, March 18, 4 p.m. at the Crest Theatre. Students will recite one of three selected poems for judges to evaluate and score. Then it’s off to Round 2 the next morning at 8 a.m., in the historic Assembly chambers of the Capitol building. A small group of competitors will move on to a third and final round the same morning. One winner will be chosen to represent California in the national finals, April 23-25 in Washington, D.C.
But each teen is already a champion in their own right, having beat out their peers first in their classroom, then at school, and finally at the county level.
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners – you have made us California proud! We can’t wait to see what you all have in store for us at the finals.
The 2018 California Poetry Out Loud State Finals are a free event open to the public, although space may be limited. For more details about the two-day final event and the state POL program, visit our online HQ for all things California Poetry Out Loud: http://arts.ca.gov/initiatives/pol/index.php.
(Featured photo: The 2017 state finalists in the Senate chambers at the California State Capitol.)