Poetry Out Loud

CA POL State Finals, Sacramento 2018

Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest is an arts education initiative created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Poetry Foundation that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry – both classic and contemporary – through memorization, performance and competition

Mariposa County’s 2021 Poetry Out Loud contest was held virtually through February 8th. Sydney Jacobs was awarded $500 for 1st; Jonah Dacanay, $250 for 2nd; and Tilly Healy $100 for 3rd place. The County winner competes in the California State Poetry Out Loud Finals against all California county finalists.

Contestants were required to select and memorize 2 poems from the Poetry Out Loud official anthology – one 25 lines or fewer and one written before the 20th century – and then submit a video of their recitation performances to the Arts Council’s panel of local judges. Each recitation is evaluated on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance and accuracy.



Sydney Jacobs, 12th-grade with “Women Who Love Angels” by Judith Ortiz Cofer, “Enough” by Suzanne Buffam, and “Death of Anne Brontë” by Charlotte Brontë


Nia Bothwell, 11th-grade with “More Lies” by Karin Gottshall, “A Poison Tree” by William Blake and “Violins” by Rowan Ricardo Philips.


Hannah Swiecki won two years in a row and in 2019 placed top 15 in the California State Finals

“To me, poetry is the jack of all trades. It commands a mastery of both spoken and written language that no other form of literature does, and in that way allows expression in a much more accessible way […] you can write a story with a novel, but you can write eternity with poetry.”

Hannah Swiecki

The winner of the Mariposa County contest proceeds to CA State virtual Finals where they compete to receive a $200 cash prize, $500 stipend for their school, and the opportunity to earn up to 20,000 dollars at the POL National Contest.

Poetry Out Loud local and county competitions are presented in partnership with the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, as part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry – both classic and contemporary – through memorization, performance and competition. Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has reached more than 3.3 million students and 50,000 teachers from 12,000 schools nationwide; the Arts Council will hold Poetry Out Loud in Mariposa County annually.