Levi Lowe, a sophomore at Sonora Union High School in Tuolumne County, took first place in the 2015 California state finals of Poetry Out Loud and will represent the Golden State in Washington, D.C. at the national finals next month. Levi recited A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown by Walt Whitman, The Nail by C. K. Williams, and The Blues Don't Change by Al Young.
Falyn Lazarus, a senior at Nevada Union High School, was the first runner-up and will represent California in the national finals if Levi is unable to attend. Ethan McSwain, a senior at San Luis Obispo High School, was the second runner-up.
The students received an inspiring address by special guest Dana Gioia, award-winning poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and the founder of Poetry Out Loud.
This year marks the tenth time the California Arts Council has produced the annual state competition, the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 40,000 students in 40 California counties participating. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA,) Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.
"The California Poetry Out Loud state final is an extremely competitive contest, and all the county champions are remarkable young men and women," said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. "California's extraordinary diversity and creativity is well represented in these talented high school students who participated today, and we are proud that Levi will represent California in the national finals."
High school students from forty California counties competed in the Poetry Out Loud State Finals