California Arts Council

State of California

The California Poetry Out Loud Students, Their Poems, and the Judging at the State Finals

California's accomplished Poetry Out Loud county winners and what they plan to recite on March 14

Published: 03-13-2008

This year marks the third time the California Arts Council has produced the Poetry Out Loud competition, a contest that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition of classical poetry. At stake for these high school students is $200 and the chance to compete for the over $20,000 available at the nationals, and the public is welcome to watch at the Secretary of State's auditorium at 1020 "O" Street in Sacramento on Friday, March 14, 2008, starting at 11:00 am.

Most Californians won't be able to attend, so the California Arts Council would like to introduce the 20 different students, what they plan to recite, and what the judges will be looking for. With 147 schools statewide partaking in the program, California has the largest number of schools participating in Poetry Out Loud of all the states. California also has the greatest increase in number of schools over a year's time, with 87 new participating schools in 2007-08.

The Judges and What They Look For

The judges for the California Poetry Out Loud state finals will be hard at work at the Secretary of State auditorium on Friday, March 14. 

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Vice Chair, California Arts Council
Al Young, State of California Poet Laureate
Stephen Young, Program Director, Poetry Foundation
Cathy Barber, Board President, California Poets in the Schools
J. Andrea Porras, Co Founder Movimiento Molcajete

Accuracy Judge: Brandon Cesmat, Professor at CSU San Marcos and Poet
Prompter: Susan Sibbet, Past President, California Poets in the Schools

All poems are well-established pieces from the canon of English literature and have been pre-chosen by the Poetry Out Loud national program. The judges will evaluate the competing students on the following criteria:

Physical Presence--the physical nature of the recitation, including contestant's posture, use of eye contact and body language

Voice and Articulation--consideration of the student's volume, speed, use of voice inflection, and proper pronunciation. (Contestants will use a microphone at the California state finals.)

Appropriateness of Dramatization--above all, recitation is about conveying a poem's sense with one's voice. It is not a theatrical enactment. Subtle dramatization must enhance the audience's understanding of the poem, but never overshadow the poem's language.

Level of Difficulty--there are several factors examined when determining the level of difficulty of a poem that include: difficult content that conveys complex and sophisticated ideas; difficult language with complex diction, syntax, meter and rhyme schemes; and poem length.

Evidence of Understanding--the judges evaluate whether the student exhibits an understanding of the poem through the recitation.

Overall Performance--overall success of the recitation based on all other criteria and other factors.

Accuracy--a separate judge will note any missed or incorrect words in the recitation, with small deductions for each, or if students rely on a prompter during the recitation.

Additional Criteria -- one poem must be pre-20th Century; and one poem must be 25 lines or less. A single poem may meet both criteria. This criterion holds for the first two poems; these requirements do not apply for the poem in the third, tie-breaker round.

The Students, Their Poem Choices

The 20 students from counties north to south, large and small, are ready to compete. Take a look at these accomplished students and the poems they plan to present. (This list is in alpha order by county; the order the students recite their poems will be determined by lottery the day of the state finals.) NOTE: Performance of these poems is not guaranteed, as student have the option to recite different poems from the pre-selected Poetry Out Loud list or to change the order, as long as the student fulfills the poem selection criteria. Some students may be eliminated prior to round three and will not recite their third poem choice.


Alameda County
School:  Oakland Military Institute College Preparatory Academy
Student:  Kathy Tran
1st Poem:  Dover Beach
           by Matthew Arnold
2nd Poem:  The Orange
            by Wendy Cope
3rd Poem:  The Properly Scholarly Attitude
            by Adelaide Crapsey
Teacher:  Joan Setka

Contra Costa County
School:  Salesian High
Student:  Cecily Stevens
1st Poem:  To the Ladies
            by Lady Mary Chudleigh
2nd Poem:  anyone lived in a pretty how town . . .
           by e.e. cummings
3rd Poem:  A Blessing
           by James Wright
Teacher:  Maureen Cary

Fresno County
School:  Roosevelt High School
Student:  Bounrod Xiong
1st Poem:  The Gift
            by Li-Young Lee
2nd Poem:  It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up
            by Emily Dickinson
3rd Poem:  The More Loving One
            by W.H. Auden
Teacher:  Paula Fansler

Humboldt County
School:  North Coast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy
Student:  Jessica Knapp
1st Poem:  Happiness
            by June Kenyon
2nd Poem:  Sonnet CXVI: Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds
            by William Shakespeare
3rd Poem:  Fever 103
            by Sylvia Plath
Teacher:  Jean Bazemore

Lake County
School:  Intermountain High School
Student:  Rachael Weiss
1st Poem:  Solitude
            by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
2nd Poem:  Thoughtless Cruelty
            by Charles Lamb
3rd Poem:  The Listeners
            by Walter De La Mare
Teacher:   James Cochrane

Los Angeles County
School:  St. Monica Academy
Student:  Annie Griffin
1st Poem:  Dulce Et Decorum Est
            by Wilfred Owen
2nd Poem:  Sonnet XXIX: When, In Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes
          by William Shakespeare
3rd Poem:  It Couldn't Be Done
            by Edgar Albert Guest
Teacher:  Aaron Gigliotti

Madera County
School:  Madera South High School
Student:  Amanda Valdez
1st Poem:  Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star
            by John Donne
2nd Poem:  Those Winter Sundays
            by Robert E. Hayden
3rd Poem:  Unknown Girl in a Maternity Ward
            by Anne Sexton
Teacher:  Ginger Latimer

Marin County
School:  Tamalpais High School
Student:  Malachia Hoover
1st Poem:  The Destruction of Sennacherib
            by Lord Byron
2nd Poem:  Still I Rise
            by Maya Angelou
3rd Poem:  Famous
            by Naomi Shihab Nye
Teacher:  Prudence Starr

Mendocino County
School:  Mendocino Community High School
Student:  Lilly Deerwater
1st Poem:  The Cremation of Sam McGee
            by Robert W. Service
2nd Poem:  To the Ladies
            by Lady Mary Chudleigh
3rd Poem:  Broken Promises
            by David Kirby
Teachers:  Jim Jennings and Illona Marcello

Monterey County
School:  North Salinas High School
Student:  Carolina Silva
1st Poem:  Annabel Lee
            by Edgar Allan Poe
2nd Poem:  Sonnet from the Portuguese 44: How do I Love thee?
            by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
3rd Poem:  Song of the Powers
            by David Mason
Teacher:  Astra Apsitas

Nevada County
School:  Bear River High School
Student:  Forest Neff
1st Poem:  The Cremation of Sam McGee
            by Robert W. Service
2nd Poem:  She Walks in Beauty
            by Lord Byron
3rd Poem:  Jabberwocky
            by Lewis Carroll
Teacher:  Steve Hansen

Placer County
School:  Oakmont High School
Student:  Roshawnda Bettencourt
1st Poem:  Sympathy
            by Paul Laurence Dunbar
2nd Poem:  Time Does Not Bring Relief: You All Have Lied
            by Edna St. Vincent Millay
3rd Poem:  Passing
            by Toi Derricotte
Teacher:  Judith Geduldig

Sacramento County
School:  Elk Grove High School
Student:  Daniel Horne
1st Poem:  Fever 103
            by Sylvia Plath
2nd Poem:   A Boat Beneath A Sunny Sky
            by Lewis Carroll
3rd Poem:  Mr. Edwards and The Spider
            by Robert Lowell
Teacher:  Ms. Ellie VanAcker

San Diego County
School:  Valley Center High School
Student:  Jason Klingerman
1st Poem:  A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General
            by Jonathan Swift
2nd Poem:  Golden Retrievals
            by Mark Doty
3rd Poem:  Immigrant Picnic
            by Gregory Djanikian
Teacher:  John Ward

San Luis Obispo County
School:  Mission College Preparatory High School
Student:  Anne Gentilucci
1st Poem:  To My Dear and Loving Husband
            by Anne Bradstreet
2nd Poem:  My Last Duchess
            by Robert Browning
3rd Poem:  Mrs. Caldera's House of Things
            by Gregory Djanikian
Teacher:  Joannie Hamm

Santa Barbara County
School:  Laguna Blanca School
Student:  Spencer Klavan
1st Poem:  When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be
            by John Keats
2nd Poem:  The Redeemer
            by Siegfried Sassoon
3rd Poem:  I Go Back to May 1937
            by Sharon Olds
Teacher:  Bojana Hill

Siskiyou County
School:  Golden Eagle Charter School
Student:  Matthew J. Bryan
1st Poem:  We Wear the Mask
            by Paul Laurence Dunbar
2nd Poem:  The Bells of San Blas
            by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
3rd Poem:  The Glove and the Lions
            by Leigh Hunt
Teacher:  Shelly Adams

Sonoma County
School:  Sonoma Academy
Student:  Grace Erny
1st Poem:  Preludes
            by T.S. Elliot
2nd Poem:  It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up
            by Emily Dickinson
3rd Poem:  Fever 103
            by Sylvia Plath
Teacher:  Brandon Spars

Tuolumne County
School:  Sonora High School
Student:  Maija Swanson
1st Poem:  The Cremation of Sam McGee
            by Robert W. Service
2nd Poem:  The Slave Auction
            by Frances Harper
3rd Poem:  Russell Market
            by Maurya Simon
Teacher:  Mr. Jeff Nixon

Ventura County
School:  Ventura High School
Student:  Eric Goodman
1st Poem:  A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General
            by Jonathan Swift
2nd Poem:  The Tyger
            by William Blake
3rd Poem:  Channel Firing
            by Thomas Hardy
Teacher:  Valerie Wyatt

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