Shayna Maci Warner, a senior at Marin School of the Arts at Novato High School, took first place in the 2014 California state finals of Poetry Out Loud on March 24 and will represent the Golden State in Washington, D.C. at the national finals next month. Shayna recited Ode for the American Dead in Asia by Thomas McGrath, On Monsieur's Departure by Queen Elizabeth I, and Baudelaire by Delmore Schwartz.
After graduating this year, Shayna hopes to pursue a college major that will allow her to become a professional storyteller, because "storytelling transforms our easily distracted, speed-of-light communication into something more tangible, visceral, and honest," she says.
This year marks the ninth time the California Arts Council has produced the annual competition—the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 40,000 students in 35 California counties participating. The program encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. The 2014 State Final judges included California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, filmmaker Christopher Coppola, and poet and arts leader Frances Phillips.
"The California Poetry Out Loud state final is an extremely competitive contest, and all the county champions are remarkable young men and women," said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. "California's extraordinary diversity and creativity is well represented in these talented young men and women who participated today, and we are delighted that Shayna will represent California in the national finals."
Shayna is an accomplished student at the Marin School of the Arts at Novato High School, where she not only studies in the school’s Creative Writing program, but is also an accomplished musician in the MSA Jazz program, playing trumpet and French horn, and this year joined the MSA Film program, expanding her storytelling talents to a new medium. MSA is the largest public arts high school in Marin County, serving nearly 500 students from Sonoma and Marin counties, as well as the East Bay and beyond.
“Shayna is truly a talented and gifted student. We’re honored that a student from Novato Unified will be representing California in the national finals,” said Dr. Shalee Cunningham, Superintendent of the Novato Unified School District. “Marin School of the Arts at Novato High school is an important program in the district supporting our students as they explore their passions and grow their talent.”
The first round poetry competition took place on the evening of Sunday, March 23, at the Sacramento Sheraton and on the state Senate floor for the second and third rounds on Monday, March 24. Video recordings of Monday's competition will be made available soon at http://www.calchannel.com/.As the California Poetry Out Loud champion, Shayna receives $200 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She will go on to compete in Washington, D.C. later this spring and her school will receive $500 for books. The California Arts Council's 2014 California Poetry Out Loud state finals were sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and PAH Nation.