2024 El Dorado County Finals

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 2024 El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud Finals took place on Thursday, February 1 at Imagination Theater. The competition was the first time the County Finals had been held in person since 2020. The students' recitations were judged by a panel of respected community members:

  • Peter Wolfe – Co-Founder and current Artistic Director of Imagination Theater
  • Stephen Meadows – El Dorado County 2023-2025 Poet Laureate
  • Charlotte Higgins - Novelist, essayist, and playwright
  • Lori Parlin - El Dorado County District IV Supervisor
  • George Turnboo - El Dorado County District II Supervisor
  • Rina Wakefield (Accuracy Judge) – Poet and host of Storytelling Sundays at Green Room Social Club
  • Loren Christofferson (Prompter) – Artist and Administrative Coordinator at Arts and Culture El Dorado
  • Gavin Sellers (Tabulator) – Actor, visual artist, and educator

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 object 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 2024 competition, Union Mine High School's Gabrielle Garlick took first place and advanced to the State Finals. Oak Ridge High School’s Alivia Chen took second place and will be the runner-up for the statewide competition. Charter University Prep's Megan Murdock took third place, and El Dorado High School's Grayson Laffin took fourth.

At the State Finals in Sacramento, held March 17-18, Gabrielle Garlick finished as one of 5 finalists out of 51 total competitors from counties across California.

Questions? E-mail: Jordan@ArtsAndCultureElDorado.org.