Erik Martinez Wins Poetry Out Loud Contest

Bishop, CA — Senior Erik Martinez, from Owens Valley High School, received the title of Inyo County Poetry Out Loud Champion at the county finals held in Bishop at Inyo Council for the Arts on February 5th. The runner-up was Joy Law, from Bishop Union High School.

This was the tenth year that Inyo Council for the Arts (ICA) has hosted Poetry Out Loud, which is sponsored nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation and locally by the California Arts Council. ICA’s Poet Teacher in the schools, Claiborne Mitchell, worked with teachers and students to implement the curriculum and mentor the student competitors as they prepared for their public performances. Speaking from the stage to the student competitors, Mitchell said she was “Incredibly impressed with how you have chosen poems that resonate with you in one way or another, own it, and get your lips around the word, and to have the valor to come and do this!”

Poetry Out Loud gives students an opportunity to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The students’ performances were judged on criteria including presence, evidence of understanding, dramatic performance, and accuracy. At the county finals, Poetry Out Loud contestants performed works they selected from an anthology of more than 650 classic and contemporary poems. Martinez, who was runner up last year, recited “Apollo” by Elizabeth Alexander and “April Love” by Ernest Dowson.

Martinez moves on to compete in Sacramento March 15th and 16th , representing Inyo County in the California State Championship. The California State Champion will compete for the national title in Washington, D.C. in April. For more information about how to follow this exciting national competition, visit www.inyo.org/poetryoutloud.