The Benicia Poet Laureate Program has partnered with The National Endowment for the Arts, The California Arts Council, The Solano Arts Council, The Poetry Foundation and The Benicia Public Library to present Poetry Out Loud, a National Recitation Contest.

Benicia and Liberty High Schools are participating in this second annual event.  Our High schools are the only schools in Solano County to compete thus far.  Ronna Leon, Benicia’s Poet Laureate, is proud to have achieved her goal of bringing such an important national event to Benicia.

“Learning great poetry by heart develops the mind and imagination,” said Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “It isn’t just an arts program. By immersing themselves in powerful language and ideas, the students will develop their ability to speak well, especially in public. This is a skill they will use in the workplace and the community for the rest of their lives.”

Judges from Benicia are:  Janice Adams, Superintendent, Benicia Unified School District; Larry Miller, President, Toastmasters Benicia; Lynne Price, Adult Literacy/ESL Program; and Juanita Martin, Poet Laureate of Fairfield.  The Accuracy Judge is Mary Eichbauer, President of the Library Board.  The Lead Teachers for Poetry Out Loud are Kim Thompson for Benicia High School and Geri Leonardis for Liberty High School.

Each winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. One runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends at the National Finals, with at least a $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

The contest will be held in the Dona Benicia Room of the Benicia Public Library on Saturday, February 4th, from 2:00 until 4:00 p.m. Winners will recite for a place in the State Finals in Sacramento.  All are welcome!