2023 El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud

2023 Poetry Out Loud El Dorado County Finals

Alison Lee

First Place

Alison Lee
Oak Ridge High School

Summer Smith

Second Place

Summer Smith 
Charter University Prep

Gabrielle Garlick

Third Place

Gabrielle Garlick
Union Mine High School

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition for high school students. In El Dorado County, the competition is administered by Arts and Culture El Dorado in partnership with the California Arts Council. A vehicle for inspiration and instruction, Poetry Out Loud provides students with a variety of resources to help them memorize, interpret, and recite poetry, instilling in students not just an appreciation of poetry, but also a sense of accomplishment and confidence in their public speaking abilities.

The 2023 El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud Finals were slated to take place on Friday, February 24 at Imagination Theater, but due to unsafe weather conditions, the competition was moved to a virtual format. Everyone involved—from teachers to students to judges—adapted quickly to ensure that the competition would still be a success. Students submitted videos of their recitations, which were reviewed and scored by a panel of local judges:

  • Peter Wolfe – Co-Founder and current Artistic Director of Imagination Theater
  • Lara Gularte – El Dorado County Poet Laureate
  • Pete Miller – Former El Dorado High School and Union Mine High School Drama teacher
  • Audrey Keebler (Accuracy Judge) – a perennial supporter of Poetry Out Loud and several quilt guilds, genealogical, and historical societies
  • Darin Coelho-Spring (Prompter) – Co-owner of the The Bookery
  • Maggie Bush (Tabulator) – Owner of Madroña Vineyards along with her husband, Paul

Poetry Out Loud has a profound impact on the students who choose to participate. Beyond their exposure to a rich literary heritage, collected in the Poetry Out Loud anthology from which they select their poems, the students also get the opportunity to engage with poetry outside of the classroom, which situates the poems in a fresh, vibrant context. The act of recitation recasts poetry as an embodied art form rather than an abstract work of contemplation, igniting a lifelong passion for poetry in some students. As Lara Gularte says, “Poetry Out Loud encourages finding the voice of the poem, the meaning, sound, and the rhythm.”

In the 2023 competition, Oak Ridge High School’s Alison Lee took first place and will represent El Dorado County at the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition. Charter University Prep’s Summer Smith took second place and will be the runner-up for the statewide competition. Union Mine’s Gabrielle Garlick rounded out the winners, taking third place in the competition.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored in part by the Poetry Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and California Arts Council: California Poetry Out Loud.