Brentwood’s Gwen Stevens to Compete at Poetry Out Loud State Finals


Brentwood CA—Gwen Stevens a junior at Independence High School in Contra Costa County took first place in the 2018 countywide Poetry Out Loud competition on February 10th at the Campbell Theater in Martinez.

Stevens will represent Contra Costa County at the upcoming state finals. Emma Lubinger of Pinole Valley High in Pinole received second place at the event.

The California Poetry Out Loud State Finals will be held March 18 and 19 in Sacramento. The first round will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 18, at the Crest Theatre. Round two of the event begins Monday, March 19 at 8:30 a.m., in the Assembly Chambers at the state Capitol. Selected students will compete in a third and final round on the same morning immediately following the second round of the competition.

The winner of the event will move on to represent the Golden State in the national finals, April 23-25 in Washington, D.C.

At the county competition Steven recited “I Go Back to May 1937” by Sharon Olds. This year’s state competition will be the 13th production from the California Arts Council. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. California’s Poetry Out Loud is the largest event of its kind in the U.S., and has grown steadily since its inception. This year’s competition series encompasses 46 counties, 261 schools, and 783 teachers, reaching nearly 73,000 students across the state.

“California Poetry Out Loud is an exciting display of the potential of our state’s young people, the power of spoken word, and how wonderfully the project builds agency in our youth,” said Anne Bown-Crawford, Director of the California Arts Council. “It is rewarding to see confidence and creativity ignite so powerfully in each of our county champions. The program is truly a testament to arts education as a categorical imperative for the future successes of both our students and our state.”

Event details for the 2018 California Poetry Out Loud State Finals can be found at the California Arts Council’s Poetry Out Loud webpage.

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The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Juan Devis, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Donn K. Harris, Louise McGuinness, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at