2017 “Poetry Out Loud” Competition Yields Record Participation

Earlier this year, Yuba Sutter Arts invited all local high school students to join in the fun of poetry recitation. Over 60 students accepted the challenge which is an all time record for the nine years of the event. On Thursday evening, February 9th, each one walked out on stage and presented their memorized poems to a packed house at the Burrows Theater at Yuba Sutter Arts. Lured by the promise of free pizza and fast food gift cards for all and even some extra credit (as well as the thrill of public recitation), these students presented poems from well-known poets like Robert Frost to more obscure poets including Naomi Shihab.

The winners from Sutter County were Jocelyn Flores – 1st place, Kaitlyn Rhyne – 2nd place and Gursimran Mann – 3rd place. All Sutter County winners attend Yuba City High School and are students of Shelley Priddy. The winners from Yuba County included Charlie Diamond – 1st place and Dillon Ruhl – 2nd place, both from Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts and Rhandi Martin-3rd place from Wheatland Union High School. Charlie and Dillon are students of Vanessa Ramirez and Rhandi is a student of Pam Sullivan. First place winners each received $100 and go on to the California State finals in Sacramento on March 11th and 12th. The California State winner will receive $200 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. in April to compete at the National Finals for college scholarship funds.

“Listening to Yuba and Sutter youth standing in front of a hall full of people and giving raw voice to Dickinson, Angelou, Twain, and so many other poets made for an unforgettable, rainy February night,” said Poetry Out Loud judge Conrad Cecil.

The structure of Poetry Out Loud is similar to a spelling bee. Judging was based on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of complexity, evidence of understanding and overall performance. Students were not allowed to use props or wear costumes during their recitations. Students in grades 9-12 were eligible and all poems had to have been selected from the Poetry Out Loud online anthology.

Thanks go out to the teachers, judges and support staff for the event, including: Jonathan Kinsman, teacher and Yuba-Sutter Poet Laureate; Gene Branaman, actor; Conrad Cecil, actor and Artist-in-Residence at Yuba Sutter Arts; Alex Cesena, Young Americans alumni; Richard Foote, retired teacher and actor; Tom Galvin, singer/songwriter; Lisa Hill, Yuba Sutter Arts and Acting Company staff member; Pat Hill, actress and director; Jessica Hougen, Curator of the Community Memorial Museum in Yuba City; Chris Pedigo, Marysville City Councilman; and Suzanne Ruckle, Yuba College Speech professor.