Poetry Out Loud is an annual program that celebrates youth and poetry. Recitation and performance are exciting current trends in poetry. There has been a resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music.

California Poetry Out Loud builds on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into California classrooms. All Alameda County high school students, grades 9-12, are invited to enter Alameda County’s Poetry Out Loud.

School winners advance to the County competition held on February 19 in Oakland. The County winner advances to the state competition in Sacramento in late March, and ultimately to the National Finals in late April.

County-level participants will receive prizes: the first place winner’s prize is $200; the second place winner’s prize is $100; all other participants will receive $25. Also, $100 will be awarded to the first-place county winner’s school department that facilitated his or her participation. The winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends at the National Finals will be awarded to the winners.

All interested Alameda County students and high schools must confirm participation with the office of the Alameda County Arts Commission by January 31 to participate in the county-level competition on February 19. For more information, visit www.acgov.org/arts (click on “What’s New”), or contact the Alameda County Arts Commission by email artscommission@acgov.org or phone at (510) 208-9646.

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