Teenagers compete poetically

The Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre, in cooperation with Mammoth Lakes Foundation, will present the Second Annual Mono County Finals in the national Poetry Out Loud competition Saturday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m.
Artistic Director Shira Dubrovner became aware of the Poetry Out Loud program—it launched nationwide in 2006—when Bishop poet and Cerro Coso College instructor Eva Poole-Gilson brought it to her attention last year.
Dubrovner said she quickly embraced the idea of offering the same opportunities to students in the Eastern Sierra that are available to students in much larger, urban communities.
“I felt this was an important project to bring into our local schools and make available to our students,” Dubrovner said. “There are way too many examples of schools having to cut down on arts programming. Offering this program provides an opportunity for our local students to learn valuable skills as well as discover the beauty of both classic and modern poetry. It also dovetails beautifully with the mission of the Mammoth Lakes Foundation.”
Poetry Out Loud was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and is administered in partnership with the State Arts Agencies—in this case the California Arts Council.
The Eastern Sierra Community Bank is sponsoring this year’s competition at the Edison Theatre.  The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. POL has grown every year with over 365,000 students competing in 2010-2011. 
This year competitors include students from High Desert Academy, Coleville High School, Lee Vining High School, and Mammoth Lakes High School, all coached by Poole-Gilson.
Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional competition—the Mono County Competition at the Edison Theatre on Jan. 28, then to the state competition March 26 in Sacramento, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington D.C. in May. 
The Poetry Out Loud Finals take place on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. at the Edison Theatre Admission is free.