Santa Barbara County Arts Commission’s 7th Annual Poetry Out Loud Competition Scheduled for February 6th

The competition represents the first step of a national recitation contest, a program run by the California Arts Council in the state and started by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Poetry Foundation to engage high-school students in the presentation of poetry through memorization and performance. The winner of the Santa Barbara County competition will go on to compete at the California state finals in Sacramento March 24th and 25th. At stake will be hundreds of dollars on the state competition level and thousands at the national finals of Poetry Out Loud in Washington DC April 28-30th, 2013. The contest is part of the celebration of April as National Poetry Month.

“In a world inundated with cryptic emails, tweets, IMing, sound bites and blips it is glorious fun to spend an evening reveling in the spoken word and the literary contributions of American poets thanks to the Poetry Out Loud program,” said Ginny Brush, Executive Director of the County Arts Commission. The Arts Commission organizes and hosts the event each year.

Paul Willis, Santa Barbara City Poet Laureate will serve as this year’s emcee for the February 6th evening event. A stellar panel of judges including David Starkey and Perie Longo, Santa Barbara Poets Laureate Emeriti, and published poets Chryss Yost, and Carol DeCanio will bring their expertise to evaluating and judging the competition. The Santa Barbara Strings Honor Quartet, coached by Mary Beth Woodruff, Artistic Director, will perform before the competition and during deliberation. Students performing are part of non-profit music education program that nurtures and trains young musicians ages 4 to 18 through a multi-tiered orchestra program and chamber ensemble program.

Last year twenty-four high school students competed in the Arts Commission’s Countywide Poetry Out Loud Competition held at the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room in Santa Barbara.

Madeleine Centrella, at student at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta took first place in the competition and went on to compete in Sacramento at the State level. In 2009 the Santa Barbara County Poetry Out Loud winner Spencer Klavan, a senior at Laguna Blanca School, went on to win at the State finals in Sacramento and represented California at the National Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington D.C. in April that same year.

The success of this program is due in large part to the dedicated teachers who recognize the value of recitation, memorization and interpretation and work closely with students to integrate Poetry Out Loud preparation into their curriculum. Faculty members Stephanie Henderson, Monica Kaplan, Robin Selzer, Gretchen Hess, Rob Schiff, Cate Nelson and Joy Kinney from Dos Pueblos High School; Ben Rothstein, Iain Freckleton, and Shawnah Van Gronigen from Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria; Bojana Hill from Laguna Blanca School; Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle and Corey Adam from El Puente Community School and Peggy Lauer of Anacapa School in Santa Barbara have all been busy engaging their students in preparation for the February 6th Competition.

This year more than 790 students have been exposed to the Poetry Out Loud program in Santa Barbara County. The County competition event will be taped and will air on CSBTV Channel 20 in the coming weeks.

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.

Santa Barbara County Arts Commission’s 7th Annual Poetry Out Loud Competition

DATE: February 6, 2012 5-7:00pm

LOCATION Board of Supervisors Hearing Room, 4th Floor, County Administration Building

105 East Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA

INFO: 805.568.3990

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.

For more information Santa Barbara Strings visit:


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