Winners of the County Arts Commission's 5th Annual Poetry Out Loud Competition are from left to right: Dos Pueblos High School students Rishika Singh, 3rd place, Courtney Cambron 1st Place, and Haley Peterson 2nd Place Runner Up. Courtney will represent Santa Barbara County at the Poetry Out Loud State final in Sacramento on March 20 and 21.
Nell Campbell

Courtney Cambron wins local competition that emphasizes language skill and public speaking; advances to the state finals in Sacramento March 20-21st.

Courtney Cambron, a Sophomore at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta took first place in the Santa Barbara County “Poetry Out Loud” competition on February 9. Courtney was one of thousands of students across the state to participate in the national recitation contest, a program run by the California Arts Council in the state and started by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to engage high-school students in the presentation of poetry through memorization and performance. Courtney advances to the California state finals in Sacramento scheduled for March 20th and 21st, 2011. At stake are hundreds of dollars on the state competition level and thousands at the national finals of Poetry Out Loud.

Fourteen high school students competed in last night’s countywide competition held at the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building in Santa Barbara. Barry Spacks, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emeritus served as emcee for the evening and a stellar panel of judges included Peri Longo, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emeritus, and published poets Chryss Yost, Carol DeCanio and Kathy Roxby.

Dos Pueblos High School swept the evening’s honors. In addition to Courtney, the judges awarded Haley Peterson with the Runner-up Award and Rishika Singh placed third. Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle a respected local poet worked with students at El Puente Community School, and faculty members William Woodard from Dos Pueblos High School, Roberta Nye, from Santa Barbara High School and Dr. David Barndollar from Laguna Blanca School were responsible for engaging faculty and their students in the Poetry Out Loud program at their schools.

“In a world of emails, IMing, texting, sound bites and blips it was glorious fun to spend an evening reveling in the spoken word and the literary contributions of American poets,” said Ginny Brush, Executive Director of the County Arts Commission.

“Young people interested in rap and slam contests can be surprisingly interested in classical poetry when it’s presented through the Poetry Out Loud competition,” said Muriel Johnson, outgoing Director of the California Arts Council. “We’ve seen students from all backgrounds and academic levels embrace this program wholeheartedly. It can change their lives.”

Spencer Klavan, from Laguna Blanca the 2009 Santa Barbara County Poetry Out Loud winner went on to win at the State finals in Sacramento and represented California at the National Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington D.C. last April.

The Poetry Out Loud program seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry: recitation and performance. Poetry Out Loud competitions start in the classroom, then at the school, region, state, and national finals, similar to the structure of the spelling bee. The national initiative is part of an attempt to bring literary arts to students, a critical need in U.S. schools, according to a 2004 NEA report Reading at Risk that found a dramatic decline in literary reading, especially among younger readers.

For more information on other programs of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission visit General information on Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Competitions can be found at and Reporters interested in more information about the statewide program may contact California Arts Council communications director Mary Beth Barber at or 916-322-6588.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.