By now, all the high schools in Plumas County wanting to participate in the annual Poetry Out Loud competition have had classroom visits to explain the program and do an activity that aims to help high school students overcome their fear of public speaking and recite a poem from memory before an audience.
“Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies” according to the Poetry Out Loud website.
Locally this means the California Arts Council and Plumas Arts work together to administer the program for Plumas County. The 2020 competition is the fourth year —and biggest year so far— for the event in Plumas County.
Some schools have had repeat visits and have begun organizing a team of students to compete. So far, three schools in Plumas County have confirmed participants: Quincy High (which won in the second year), Indian Valley Academy (which won last year) and Long Valley Charter.
Now comes the fun part: the competition. Plumas Arts will hold a countywide competition Sunday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Town Hall Theatre in Quincy.
Each contestant will recite one poem from the Poetry Out Loud website from memory and will be judged on memorization, interpretation and appearance.
Three local judges will determine the winner of the contest, who will then move on to represent Plumas County in the state competition in Sacramento on March 15 and 16.
Poetry enthusiast Will Farris, who judged last year, has confirmed he will be back for a second year. Other judges are still being confirmed.
The student who comes in first will have to memorize two additional poems for recitation at the state competition.
There will be cash prizes for winners of the contest. Funding is provided for the county champion’s stay in Sacramento. The winner of the state contest will represent California in the national contest in Washington D.C. in April.
The contest is open to all students in ninth through 12th grades in Plumas County regardless of whether or not a presentation was made in that student’s English class, or whether they are public, private or home-schooled students.
Poet and arts administrator Margaret Elysia Garcia is providing coaching to all students interested through Plumas Arts and is visiting schools for a second time throughout January by request.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the contest, call Plumas Arts at 283-3402 or Margaret Elysia Garcia at (714) 746-4093.