Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation program initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts in concert with The Poetry Foundation and sponsored in California by the California Arts Council. Ventura County Arts Council facilitates the program in Ventura County. The goal of Poetry Out Loud is to advance spoken poetry among high school students through oral interpretations of published poems.

We organize the county competition and oversee distribution of information about the program to the county’s public and private high schools. English teachers are encouraged to include a poetry unit in their classes and a competition in their respective schools. Local professional poets volunteer to coach participants in preparation for the competition for up to five hours at each school. School winners are entered into the county competition. The county competition is moved around the county to give visibility to the program. The county winner goes to the state competition. The state winner advances to the national competition in Washington DC. Prizes are awarded at every competition level.

California Arts Council grants some funds to VCAC to cover some program expenses and poetry coaches also receive some reimbursement from California Poets in the Schools. We also receive support for Poetry Out Loud from Sage Publications, an academic publisher headquartered in Thousand Oaks.

2023 VC Poetry Out Loud contestants, from left: Bella Lopez, Javan Salinas, first place winner Sofia Noriega and Ishva Patel.
A previous VC Poetry Out Loud winner with her family.

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