Poetry Out Loud

The Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud Finals were held in the newly renovated 

Stevenson Hall on the campus of Sonoma State University on February 5, 2023.

2023 Poetry Out Loud Winners:

Jacob Pruitt, Rancho Cotati HS, 1st place

Chelle Servais, Santa Rosa HS, 2nd place

Derek Sadorra, Piner HS, 3rd place

Chelle Servais went on to represent Sonoma County in the state finals, making it to the 3rd and final round of top 10 contestants. Congratulations to all!

A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud® is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. The program starts in the classroom at school or at the local level with an area organization. Winners then may advance to a regional contest, then state competition, and ultimately to the national finals. Awards and placements are determined solely by the judges’ scores based on the Poetry Out Loud Evaluation Criteria.

Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated in Poetry Out Loud. 

Creative Sonoma, as the county’s designated Local Arts Agency, receives NEA funding via the California Arts Council to support our local Poetry Out Loud Program.


How does it work? The structure of POL is similar to a spelling bee. Participating teachers assist students in selecting a poem from the POL Anthology. Students memorize the poem and practice recitation. Poet teachers are provided to the class to support students. The average length of the program in a school is 3 weeks.  Each school determines a representative to the countywide POL contest on February 5, 2023, which will be held at Sonoma State University.  All types of high schools are welcome to participate, including public, private, parochial, independent, charter, etc., as well as homeschool students. 

Use the app to find, save, and practice poems!


National Level: A total of $50,000 in awards and school/organization stipends will be given at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the National Champion, $10,000 for 2nd place, $5,000 for 3rd place, and $1,000 for 4th–9th places. The representing schools or organizations of each of the top nine finalists receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. There will be one honorable mention in each of three national semifinals competitions. Those students will not advance to the finals, but will each receive a $1,000 cash award and a $500 school/organization stipend. 

State Level: Each winner at the state level will receive $200 and their school will receive $500 for poetry materials. One runner-up in each state will receive $100; their school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry materials

  • Watch this video to learn more HERE 
  • Read about the impact of POL HERE 
  • Teacher’s Guide can be found HERE 
  • Watch recitation videos HERE