Poetry Out Loud Mendocino County 2023-24

Lesson Introduction

Poetry Out Loud 2023-24…

Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide program engaging high school students in discovery and learning about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Poetry Out Loud students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Out Loud is administered statewide by the California Arts Council (CAC).

California’s Poetry Out Loud is the largest program of its kind in the U.S. In the 2022-23 year, California’s Poetry Out Loud saw 14,418 students, 223 schools, and 514 teachers participate. These were the highest count in these categories in the nation, and each category saw an increase from the previous year.

Poetry Out Loud includes both classroom learning and a tiered competition similar to a spelling bee. In the Fall, high school teachers can  use free Poetry Out Loud teacher tool-kits to teach about poetry and organize classroom recitations. Each classroom advances students to a school-wide competition; school champions compete at the county level by mid-February. County winners then progress to California Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Sacramento, and a chance to compete in the national competition in Washington, D.C. in May.

California Arts Council relies on State-Local Partnership (SLP) agencies to act as County Partners for California Poetry Out Loud, organizing the program in their local schools and communities. SLP agencies receive grant funds specifically to support Poetry Out Loud.

In order to follow the guidelines set by the National and State Poetry Out Loud directors, the 2023-24 Poetry Out Loud Mendocino County Finals will take place on Tuesday, February 13, 2024.

The winner of Mendocino County POL will advance to the state finals in Sacramento, March 16-17, 2024.

More information on the National Finals can be found here.

How to Find a Poem

The NEA has just rolled out a new website design at poetryoutloud.org. The best new additions are the ability to search for poems “by collection” and filter “by subject” — this is something teachers have wanted for quite a while, so this should make it more interesting and engaging for students to explore the site, looking for poems that are meaningful to them.

Browse Poems:  https://www.poetryoutloud.org/search/?type=collection

Watch – choosing a poem below:

Contact Blake More for Individual Mentoring

If you are serious about winning and want to do some extra credit work outside of class, send me an email and I’d love to work with you.

How to Submit POL Videos for the County Competition

DEADLINE – the sooner the better, but Tuesday, February 13, 5pm is the hard deadline.

Poets:  Two memorized poems (selected from the Poetryoutloud.org website) are required to participate in the countywide competition.  Please create each of your poems as a separate video (not to poems in one video) and send two clearly marked/named files.

For example, if I attended Point Arena High School and was reciting Fire & Ice by Robert Frost, my file might look like this:  blake-more-fire-ice-robert-frost-pahs.mp3

Video Introduction: When recording your poem, make sure you start by clearly and slowly saying your full name, your school, the name of the poem and the name of the poet, then pause and begin your poem recitation. 

Recording Device: You can record your submissions on a camera phone, computer, zoom screen, or whatever device you prefer. Keep in mind that designing a background and being able to look into the camera are essential. (You will find other video recording tips at the end of this email)

How to Submit Videos to Mendocino POL:

The easiest way is to use WeTransfer to send it to blake@bmoreyou.net. No need to sign in to that app unless you want to.

Step-by-Step Submission Instructions:

  1. ·      As guest, go to https://wetransfer.com/upload
  2. ·      Agree to terms of service 
  3. ·      Click plus sign to Add poem video from your Files
  4. ·      Wait for file to upload
  5. ·      In the “TO” email box, write:  blake@snakelyone.com (hit return)
  6. ·      Put your email in the next box below
  7. ·      In Message box, add your name, school, grade and the title of the video you are sending (you will be sending two videos). Very important!
  8. ·      Click “Transfer”
  9. ·      A code will be sent to your email address so you must go to your email inbox to get the verification code
  10. ·      Retrieve code from your email and fill in appropriate box
  11. ·      Click Verify

That’s it, you are done! You will receive a confirmation email in your inbox when your file has sent and another email when we download the file.


Credits and Acknowledgments

The California Arts Council builds public will and resources for the arts; fosters accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serves as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and provides relevant programs and services.

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.  

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs.

Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the State and Jurisdictional Arts Agencies of the United States.

In California, Poetry Out Loud is administered statewide by the California Arts Council and State-Local Partnership agencies.

Find CAC and CA POL logos here. Find NEA, Poetry Foundation, and National POL logos here.

Important Dates

  • ·       Tuesday, February 13, 2024: Mendocino County POL Competition
  • ·       Sunday, Monday, March 17-18, 2024: California Poetry Out Loud State Finals, Sacramento
  • ·       Tuesday April 30 – Thursday May 2, 2024: Poetry Out Loud National Finals, Washington D.C.

Contact Info

  • ·       Contact Blake More for more info and to schedule workshops with a poet teacher in your area. 
  • blake@bmoreyou.net

Audio & Video Inspiration

POL Links


Poetry Out Loud Website:

Browse Poems: 

Recitation Videos from Years Past:

Review the judging criteria and the“judges guide”:

Other Resources & Teaching Materials: https://www.capoetryoutloud.org/resources

Poetry Ourselves (original poems can also be submitted): https://www.capoetryoutloud.org/ourselves


Online Teacher Tools

Links to online tools for teachers can be found at:

POL Mobile app

POL Mobile App!!

POL has a free POL app! With this app, students can easily find, save, and practice poems for the competition on their phones or tablets. 

Available for download:

   App Store (iOS)

   Google Play Store (Android)


Importance of Emotional Tone

Importance of Emotional Tone


o   “Conveying emotion with Hamlet”

o   Poems read by professional actors

Sophia Elena Soberon

    Bilingual/Bilingüe by Rhina P. Espaillat. 

Sophia Soberon’s polished stage presence and clear voice offset the poem’s conflicted subject matter and its themes of alienation and uncertainty. Her interpretation embodies a poised, reflective narrator who is confident in two languages where another may stumble. Keys: Physical Presence, Voice and Articulation.

William Farley

Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams.

William Farley successfully navigates the duality of tone in this bittersweet poem. His eye contact and body language—at times intense and direct, at times softened and playful—reveal his clear grasp of the poem’s melancholy undercurrent amidst its whimsy. Farley provides an intimate and ultimately endearing portrait of the narrator, captivating the audience by what it means to be alone and to be human. Keys: Physical Presence, Evidence of Understanding.

Madison Niermeyer

I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

One challenge of this poem is not to make it sound wordy and repetitive with its refrain. Niermeyer skillfully varies her performance enough to avoid monotony and so capitalizes on the refrain. She manages the many allusions and communicates well the tricky tone between earnestness and satire. Niermeyer seamlessly blends her spare use of body language and gestures with the poem’s language and intent—they are never distracting, but only fitting and natural in their placement. Keys: Dramatic Appropriateness, Voice and Articulation.

Best Filming Practices

Please record in “landscape,” or with stabilizing phone in a horizontal orientation rather than vertical or “portrait.” That will increase the visual real estate and stay cohesive from video to video.


  • Record in the shade or while it’s cloudy 
  • Be mindful of your background
  • Record while facing windows
  • Indoors? Or at night? Try with a lamp bouncing it’s light off a neutral colored wall


  • Intense Backlighting (for example recording with a window behind you without additional light to illuminate the Poet) 
  • Recording outdoors in full sunlight with harsh shadows on face/hat or with shadowing or sunglasses hiding faces
  • Avoid recording outside if it’s windy/breezy

Of course, these are all rules that can be “broken” if someone wants to take artistic license with their lighting & environment during their performance. 

How to Film a POL Recitation for a Virtual Contest