Poetry Out Loud announces state winners

Alex Yue of Sacramento County has been named this year’s California Poetry Out Loud state champion. The 17-year-old senior from John F. Kennedy High School took first place in the statewide recitation competition held virtually Sunday, March 19. Yue will go on to represent the state of California at the national finals in May in Washington, D.C.

The 2023 State Finals marked the 18th year of the Poetry Out Loud program for high school students, which encourages youth to learn about poetry through memorization and performance. Students representing 48 counties competed for the state title.

For the fourth consecutive year, students participated in a virtual competition for the finals, but for the first time ever in 2023, with an added live third round conducted via Zoom. Two rounds of pre-recorded poem recitation videos were submitted by students, which were assessed and scored by our judges. Score tallies determined the top ten finalists, who performed a third and final round of recitations live via Zoom. Final score tallies immediately following Sunday’s competition decided the 2023 California Poetry Out Loud state champion, announced live during the event.

Recitations from Alex included “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop, “The Conqueror Worm” by Edgar Allen Poe, and “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman. His teacher is Jennifer Reynaga.

Alex shared his love for poetry as a participant of the Poetry Out Loud program: “The arts and Poetry Out Loud have been a way for me to express my individuality,” he said. “Through the poems of my choice, my understanding, my approach and my few or many victories, I can feel myself interacting with artistically adorned ideas that are depthful and great.”

Anaiya Asomugha, a 17-year-old junior at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles County, was runner-up in this year’s competition. Third place went to Olivia Le, a 15-year-old sophomore at Orange County School of the Arts in Orange County.

Since 2019, California’s county champions have also been invited to submit original written works at the state level through the Poetry Ourselves creative writing contest.

The winning piece for 2023, “my american alphabet,” was written by Orange County Poetry Out Loud champion and state competition third-place winner Olivia Le. Sixteen-year-old Selina Xu, a junior at Harker Upper School in Santa Clara County, was selected as runner-up with her submission, titled “Ocean Sister,” and 17-year-old Tashi Liem, a senior at Santa Cruz High School in Santa Cruz County, received third place for their poem, “under the sun.”