Poetry Out Loud contest builds public speaking skills, self confidence

The Orange County Department of Education is partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation and the California Arts Council to support Poetry Out Loud, a national contest that asks high school students to memorize and recite timeless poetry. And there’s an opportunity to learn more next week.

“This event opens students’ eyes to poetry and poetry opens their eyes to the world,” said OCDE Coordinator of Secondary English Language Arts Susan Carle. “It’s an excellent career and college readiness skill — called out in the standards — to be able to prepare something to present to an audience and effectively convey the message behind the words.”

Winners of last year's Poetry Out Loud competitions

The Poetry Out Loud competition, which has contests at the school, county, state and national levels, helps students master public speaking skills, build self confidence and learn about literacy heritage. Pictured are a few of last year’s winners from Orange County.

Helping students master public speaking skills, build self confidence and learn about literacy heritage, Poetry Out Loud begins with school-level competitions, where students choose one poem to memorize and recite before at least two judges. The winner from each school advances to the county level.

At the 2017 OC Poetry Out Loud contest, which will be held Feb. 2 in Costa Mesa, competitors will prepare and recite two poems for two judges — an accuracy judge and an interpretive judge — and an audience. The accuracy judge will score the competitors on their ability to recite the exact poem as it appears on the judge’s page, while the interpretive judge will score the competitor on his or her voice volume, posture and overall presence on stage.

And, new this year, students competing in the county event can choose to participate in an additional contest called Between the Lines, which gives students the opportunity to compose and recite their own original poems. The winner of this contest will be invited to recite his or her winning poem at the 8th Annual Creative Edge Lecture at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on March 14 alongside the U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.

“The Between the Lines contest is a way for our students to demonstrate their creativity as well as their ability to present,” Carle said.

Meanwhile, the overall winner of the 2017 OC Poetry Out Loud contest will represent Orange County — and prepare three poems to recite — at the 2017 National Poetry Out Loud competition next year.

A Poetry Out Loud information meeting for parents, teachers and educators will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in Building D of OCDE’s main campus, located at 200 Kalmus Drive in Costa Mesa.

You can register up until the day of the meeting here. OCDE officials, 2016 OC Poetry Out Loud winner Grace Danon of Mater Dei High School and local storyteller, director and OC Poetry Out Loud Adjudicator Myrenna Obgu, will be in attendance.