California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

February 22, 2013Mary Beth Barber

California Poetry Out Loud State Finals Slated for March 24th and 25th in Sacramento

Second and third rounds to take place in the state Senate chamber

Sacramento -
Tens of thousands of high school students analyzed, memorized and recited their poems in California, but only a few dozen will stand on the state Senate floor in the California Poetry Out Loud state finals. The California Poetry Out Loud competition takes place on Sunday, March 24 (Round 1) and Monday, March 25 (Round 2 and Round 3), with the events on Monday to take place in the state Senate Chamber and be webcast, and potentially telecast live, by the California Channel.

This year marks the eighth time the California Arts Council has produced the annual competition -- the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 40,000 students in approximately 34 California counties participating. The program encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

"The power of California's Poetry Out Loud program is simply amazing," said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. "Thousands of California high school students are affected by this program. They learn to love the written word and the art of poetry, as well as overcome the terror and experience the thrill of recitation and public presentation."

The Arts Council's 2013 California Poetry Out Loud Finals will be sponsored by Target Corporation and are expected to be standing-room only, based on the excitement generated statewide and attendance in previous years. Rounds 2 and 3 of the California Poetry Out Loud State Finals are slated to be recorded by the multi-media staff in the Senate and televised and/or webcast live on the California Channel (, which won a Telly award in 2008 for their program about that year's state finals.

Finalists from the following counties are expected to compete in the state capitol: Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Inyo, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tuolumne, Ventura, and Yolo. (Other counties participated in the program do not have a county winner to send to the finals.)

The Poetry Out Loud State Finals is California's 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 California Poetry Out Loud champion will win $200 from the NEA and go on to compete in Washington, DC in April, with the winner's school receiving $500 for poetry books. The California runner-up receives $100 from the NEA, with his or her school receiving $200 for books. At stake for the national finals is approximately $50,000 in scholarships and related winnings.

Members of the press interested in California's Poetry Out Loud program should contact Mary Beth Barber at 916-322-6588, Sunday's events (Round 1) will take place at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento (1230 J Street). Members of the public should know that space will be limited at both locales - the Sheraton and the Senate chambers - so members of the public interested in attending the competition should contact Poetry Out Loud coordinator Kristin Margolis at More general information, including a list of poems the students may choose to recite, can be found at

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, Andrew Green, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lenihan, William Turner, and Rosalind Wyman.

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