Participants in the January 2020 Plumas County Poetry Out Loud contest stand outside the Town Hall Theatre before the high school recital competition gets underway. File photo

Poetry Out Loud 2021 going virtual

Meg Upton

Staff Writer

[email protected]

Good news! The annual national high school poetry recitation contest—that Plumas County has been a participant in for the last four years is a go! A virtual go.


Last week the California Arts Council—the state sponsor of the Poetry Out Loud contest—determined that the 2021 contest will be completely virtual. Usually, preparation for the contest begins at the beginning of the fall semester with the county coordinator making school visits through out the semester for a contest in mid January.

The 2021 contest will take place in the beginning of February instead and Plumas County Poetry Out Loud coordinator, poet Margaret Elysia Garcia, will instead be hosting zoom informational meetings with teachers and zoom coaching sessions with students through out January in preparation for the contest.

Four the last four years in Plumas County, Plumas Arts has sponsored the contest in conjunction with the California Arts Council. Last year saw the biggest competition yet, held at the Town Hall Theatre in January 2020 with students participating from Quincy High School, Plumas Charter School, Long Valley Charter, Indian Valley Academy. Colette Tilford of Quincy High School won first place, with Jacob Cook of Indian Valley Academy taking second, and Sarah Pfingston of Long Valley Charter in Portola taking third.

All high school students grades 9-12 in the county are eligible to participate in the contest by reciting a poem from memory available on the Poetry Out Loud website. The mission of the competition is to expose high school students more widely to poetry and how poetry gives meaning to our lives.


This year’s county contest date is to be determined but will take place sometimes the first week of February as a live contest on video platform. The judges will be watching and submit scores to the contest organizer to be tallied. Winners and runners up will be announced later that day.

Students interested in how to do the contest virtually should check out the YouTube page for Poetry Out Loud, where examples of how to recite on video with tips on best practices are. Poems should be chosen from the Poetry Out Loud website

This year’s teacher’s guide is also available on the website. Teachers and school administrators and homeschoolers interested in doing the contest this year should contact Margaret Elysia Garcia at [email protected].

The statewide contest will be held March 11 with the Plumas County winner representing the county virtually, followed by a national contest in April during national poetry month.