Poetry Out Loud high school competition set for Jan. 30

By Meg Upton

   The annual national high school poetry recitation contest — Poetry Out Loud — is about to celebrate its sixth year in Plumas County. The 2022 competition is set for Sunday, Jan. 30 in Quincy.

   Though COVID could change plans for the contest, the current plan is to have students recite the poems they chose to memorize in person either at the Town Hall Theatre or the Plumas Arts Gallery depending on the number of contestants.

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   The state competition in Sacramento which takes place every year in March will be virtual again this year, as will the national competition which usually takes place in April in Washington D.C.

   All Plumas County high school students grades 9 through12 are eligible to participate in the contest by reciting a poem from memory available on the Poetry Out Loud website. Each year the number of participants has risen steadily with nearly 30 in 2020 and 19 in 2021. Students from Quincy High School have won first place three out of the last five years, (Indian Valley Academy and Portola High School have each won first place one year.

   So far, for the 2022 contest Quincy High School, Chester High School, Indian Valley Academy, and Long Valley Charter have all indicated they will send students. Homeschooled and private schooled students are also eligible to compete.

   Students will face a panel of three local judges who will critique how well they memorized the poem, as well as how well they understood the poem and could convey its meaning.

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   The first place winner takes home $500 and becomes the county champion who then represents the county in the statewide competition; the second place winner takes home $300, and the third place winner takes home $200.

   The mission of the competition is to expose students to a wider variety of poets and poetry in the hopes that those students will value and appreciate having poetry in their lives. Common Core standards for English align with the program and lesson plans are available on the Poetry Out Loud website to be used in the classroom.

   Coaching is available through out the month of January by Zoom and in person for students who are thinking o of competing at the end of the month.

   Students and teachers interested in the contest should check out the YouTube page for Poetry Out Loud, where examples of how to recite tips on best practices are. Poems must be chosen from the Poetry Out Loud website https://www.poetryoutloud.org/ in order to be eligible for the competition.

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   This year’s teacher’s guide is only 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].

   Plumas Arts in partnership with the California Arts Council and the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts puts on this high school competition annually which culminates in a national competition during April, which is also national poetry month.

   The county champion will have to commit two more poems to memory to compete in the statewide virtual competition.