A key priority for Sierra Poetry Festival is that our youth have an opportunity to grow and thrive – either through poetry recitation or through the simple enjoyment of listening to poetry read by some of our most eminent poets. Our youth can enjoy mainstage readings, attend workshops, and participate in the free fringe festival poetry pop-up events that take place all the way through National Poetry Month. Our festival tickets for youth are offered free of charge.


Nevada County Poetry Out Loud finalist Mia Mahurin, of Nevada Union High School, reciting her poems during the final round of the Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Sacramento. Held in the Assembly Chambers at the State Capitol with over 40 state legislators present, together with Dana Gioia, California Poet Laureate. Mia recited Zacuanpapalotls by Brenda Cardenas and Diameter by Michelle Y. Burke - and she will be reciting these poems for us at the 2018 Sierra Poetry Festival.

High School Participation

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3 million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 schools in every state, Washington, DC, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In Nevada County Poetry Out Loud starts in classroom level led by teachers, with additional teacher and student guidance, coaching and mentoring offered by professional teaching poets registered with California Poets in the Schools under the umbrella of Nevada County Arts Council. Student winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals.

Nevada County Arts Council offers participants the chance to present their pieces at Sierra Poetry Festival to friends, family, peers, and new audiences.

You can learn more about Poetry Out Loud here.

Middle School Participation

Nevada City School of the Arts

We also offer middle school students the opportunity to present poems of their choice at the Sierra Poetry Festival. In November, our teaching poets attend Nevada City School of the Arts 8th Grade Poetry Slam to select interested young poets who are then offered coaching prior to the festival, and during select events during our pre-festival pop-up poetry events.

At our festival events our 8th graders get to mingle with our high school students and get a taste of Poetry Out Loud.

Dream A Difference


Dream a Difference began in 2016 as a poetry project connecting small schools in the United Kingdom with others in Jordan, Palestine, Malaysia and Zimbabwe. This year, Nevada County Arts Council will partner with Twin Ridges Schools District to coach children in poetry at Washington and Grizzly Hill Schools.

These students will form part of an emerging global community of young people who are gaining awareness and learning empathy for the way others live and, in the spirit of sharing the poetry they write in the form of song and recitation, will share their own experience of life in rural California.

Washington and Grizzly Hill Schools are situated on the Western Slope of the Sierra Nevada. Deeply remote and forming one of the smallest school districts in the US, they will become the first in the country to participate in Dream a Difference. Our teaching poets and musicians will visit students in the months to come and, if they are ready to share their poetry by April 28, we will present them at our 2018 Sierra Poetry Festival.

You can learn more about Dream a Difference here.

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