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Top Young Poets Well-Versed in Literary Art Form

Poetry Out Loud competitors represent five high schools

Winners Josie Allen, left, and Isabella Melsheimer with Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Enid Osborn.
Winners Josie Allen, left, and Isabella Melsheimer with Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Enid Osborn. (John Ogilvie)

Josie Allen was crowned champion with Isabella Melsheimer named runner-up in the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture's regional Poetry Out Loud Competition.

Both Allen and Melsheimer are students at Orcutt Academy High School. They competed against 15 students representing five high schools.

Each participating school held individual competitions before sending their top three placeholders to compete at the county level. Allen received an all-expense paid trip to compete at the state finals that were held March 18 in Sacramento.

State finalists will receive funding to participate at the national competition in Washington D.C., April 25.

Fourth District County Supervisor Peter Adam will recognize Allen, Melsheimer and Orcutt Academy High School with a resolution during a Board of Supervisors meeting set for April 10 at the Betteravia Government Center, Santa Maria.

The Poetry Out Loud competition, presented in partnership with the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, and accuracy. Teachers introduced poetry recitation in the classroom using free, standards-based curriculum materials.

Over the past 11 years, Poetry Out Loud has reached some 3 million students and 45,000 teachers from 10,000 schools nationwide.

Competitors from the countywide Poetry Out Loud program will join Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Enid Osborn for Poetry in the Parks, 1-3 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park Alhecama Theater, 123 E. Canon Perdido St.

The Santa Barbara Folk Orchestra will perform at the event, followed by the student recitations. Osborn then will lead readings from renowned local poets.

The free event is a program of California State Parks produced in partnership with the city of Santa Barbara, Office of Arts and Culture and El Presidio State Park.

Poetry in Parks is a public spoken-word special event series presented in a variety of California State Parks since 2015. Lands that are now California State Parks have long served as places of inspiration to writers, artists and poets.

Great California poets such as Ina Coolbrith, Robinson Jeffers, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Dana Gioia and Jane Hirshfield have all written works that reflect on California’s natural places.

For more information about Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture, visit www.sbac.ca.gov. General information on Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Competitions is at www.cac.ca.gov and www.poetryoutloud.org.

— Sarah York Rubin for Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture.


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