MLF: Mono County Poetry Out Loud

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Announcing the winner of the 8th Annual Mono County Poetry Out Loud competition

For the first time this year’s competition takes place in Bridgeport, the County Seat

Mammoth Lakes – Eight Students from Coleville and Lee Vining competed in the 8th annual Poetry Out Loud county competition on Sunday, Dec. 3 in Bridgeport at 2 p.m. for the chance to represent Mono County in the State finals in Sacramento. The winner will go on to compete for the $20,000 prize at the national level in Washington, D.C. The competition was held in the County Seat, neutral territory, in the lovely Memorial Hall beside the County Courthouse. Each participating student presented their two favorite poems from the official Poetry Our Loud selection of published poems eligible for this year’s contest.

“We are extremely excited host Poetry Out Loud finals for Mono County for the eighth year, having first introduced the program in 2010,” said Artistic Director of the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre, Shira Dubrovner. “Supporting Poetry Out Loud is important for students, especially in a small rural county like ours, so that they have the same opportunities as those from large urban areas. I’m proud of the students who put in the time and effort to bring poetry to life and present it the way it is meant to be heard.” 

The winner who will represent Mono County in Sacramento this coming March was Sophia McKee of Lee Vining High School. She recited Self Inquiry before the Job Interview by Gary Soto and Silence by Thomas Hood. The runner-up, who will go to Sacramento in case the winner cannot participate, is Brayan Garcia of Coleville High School. He recited Life by Edith Wharton and also Silence by Thomas Hood.

Other participating students include, Rosalie Burch, Claire DesBaillet, Karlina Duro, Joye Lehen, Caelen McQuilkin of Lee Vining High, and Angelica Childs of Coleville High.

Our judges were Mike Bodine, Sheet Newspaper reporter; Malcolm Clark, retired professor of religion at Butler University; Ana Danielson, Mono County Library Director; Eva Poole Gilson, published poet and the one who introduced this program in Mono County; and John Peters, Mono County Supervisor. The accuracy judge was Juliana Olinka-Jones, actress and former VP of International Promotions at Warner Bros.

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. The winner of the Mono County contest will travel to Sacramento to compete against students from other California counties. The winner of the state competition then travels to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on April 23-25, 2018, at the Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University.

Poetry Out Loud, which began in select areas in 2005 and has grown to encompass the entire United States, helps students improve public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about the poetry form of literature. It is an innovative program that encourages high school students to learn great poetry through memorization and performance of the written word. It also incorporates the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English and drama class—all of which meet Common Core Standards.

Local judges evaluate each student’s performance on six criteria: physical presence, voice and articulation; dramatic appropriateness of the poem’s presentation; level of complexity of each poem; evidence of understanding of each competitor for their poems; and overall performance. Students must also present the poem word-for-word and there is an accuracy judge who follows along as the poems are recited to evaluate each student’s presentation.

Sponsors include California Arts Council and Mammoth Lakes Foundation.

The Mammoth Lakes Foundation offers free education (books and tuition) to any Mono County resident and/or high school graduate who pursues an AA degree at Cerro Coso Community College and provides year-round theatre programming at Edison Theatre. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact the Foundation at (760) 934-3781 or visit MammothLakesFoundation.org. Our nonprofit work is only possible through your generosity.

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