Poetry Out Loud

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered statewide by the California Arts Council, 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. California’s Poetry Out Loud is the largest event of its kind in the U.S., and has grown steadily since its inception. The 2019 competition series encompassed 52 counties, 305 schools, and 730 teachers, reaching nearly 60,600 students statewide.

The structure of Poetry Out Loud is similar to a spelling bee. This annual program starts in the fall, with high school teachers using the free Poetry Out Loud teacher toolkit and related materials to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Classroom winners advance to a school wide competition; school champions compete at the district or county level. 

The Sierra County Arts Council and the Sierra Plumas Joint Unified School District staff have implemented this program under the guidance of community volunteer Paul Guffin and all Sierra County High School students are encouraged to participate.  The Sierra County competition takes place in January.  Sierra County’s winner competes in the Poetry Out Loud California State Finals in Sacramento.  The winner of the state event moves on to represent the Golden State in the national finals in Washington, D.C.  Poems are selected from the National Poetry Out Loud website at https://www.poetryoutloud.org. For more information contact Paul Guffin: paul@guffin.net

Greg Ziegler, Isabel Long-McGie, Katie Epps

Sierra County Poetry Out Loud Competition


Sierra County’s 2020 Poetry Out Loud winner was Downieville High School’s Greg Ziegler.  Also from Downieville High School were 2nd place winner, Isabel Long-McGie and 3rd place winner, Katie Epps.  the Sierra County Competition took place in January at Sierraville School. Greg Ziegler will travel to Sacramento in March to compete in the California State Finals.