Nevada City, CA, February 9, 2024 - Nevada County Arts Council and Nevada County Libraries invite the community to the Eric Rood Center on Tuesday, February 13 at 6:00pm to cheer on local youth as they compete in this year’s Poetry Out Loud County Championships.

Photo by Diana Arbex
Photo by Diana Arbex

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. Students from various Nevada County high schools have been working hard, challenging themselves, and receiving additional support from some of Nevada County’s finest poets.

California Arts Council, which provides part funding for the program through the National Endowment for the Arts, believes that “the voices of our youth command our future,” and that “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.”

Says Eliza Tudor, Executive Director at Nevada County Arts Council: “For our high school students Poetry Out Loud comes at a vital time in their education and development. The skills gained through participating in this annual event last a lifetime and you can see it for yourself as students return to the County Championships year after year! Let’s come together and show our support for their dedication and achievements.”

Participants are scored on memorization, recitation, performance, and understanding of the poems they have selected. Consideration of the delivery, along with accuracy, combine to create their final score. Judges this year include Nevada County Librarian Nick Wilczek, Nevada County Poet Laureate emeritus Chris Olander, and current Poet Laureate Kirsten Casey, along with other respected members of our literary community. Following the competition, one student selected as the county winner will then be treated to an unforgettable two days at the California Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Sacramento, and have a chance to compete in the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Marika Beck, English Language Arts Teacher at Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, says: “Poetry Out Loud is absolutely aligned with State standards for reading, writing, listening and speaking. It meets students who both love English and poetry, as well as students who may generally struggle in English classes. It gives them an alternative way of demonstrating engagement and understanding language. There’s a shift in perspective across the board in how students feel about themselves and how they feel about each other. They rise to the occasion and surprise me every year.”

Poetry Out Loud finalists are also offered an opportunity to recite their poems at Sierra Poetry Festival, which takes place during National Poetry Month in April each year. This year’s festival will feature keynote speaker Jane Hirshfield, along with many exciting workshops and illuminating readings. Nevada County Arts Council has also partnered with the Library for Nevada County Reads, which this year features nationally renowned poet Ross Gay, who can be enjoyed in conversation with Library staff, as well as Q&A, on Saturday, April 13th.

Photo by Diana Arbex

A key priority for Sierra Poetry Festival is that our youth have an opportunity to grow and thrive – either through poetry recitation or through the simple enjoyment of listening to poetry read by some of our most eminent poets. Our youth can enjoy mainstage readings, attend workshops, and participate in the free fringe festival poetry pop-up events that take place all the way through National Poetry Month. Festival tickets are offered to youth free of charge.

More information about Poetry Out Loud in Nevada County is available on our website at nevadacountyarts.org/poetry-out-loud.

What: Poetry Out Loud Nevada County Championships

When: Tuesday, February 13, 6:00pm

Where: Board of Supervisors Chambers at the Rood Center, 950 Helling Way, Nevada City

Who: High School Poetry Out Loud finalists Information:      nevadacountyarts.org/poetry-out-loud