2024 Los Angeles County

Poetry Out Loud Celebration Ceremony

February 1, 2024 Los Angeles CA


Poetry Out Loud, a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation, is supported statewide by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and locally by the LA County Office of Education in partnership with the LA County Department of Arts and Culture. Learn more at https://www.arts.ca.gov.


WINNER - Benjamin Hays, grade 12

The Listeners by Walter de la Mare
Crescenta Valley High School
Michele Cheney, Teacher
Glendale Unified SD

RUNNER UP - Selah Johnson, grade 10

Black Matters by Keith S. Wilson
The Archer School for Girls
Kathleen Keelty, Teacher
Private, Los Angeles

Sooren Ahvazi, grade 11

Beautiful Wreckage by W.D. Ehrhart
Magnolia Science Academy 1
Carolyn Talcott, Teacher
Charter, Reseda

Elizabeth Christian, grade 12

Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins
St. Monica Academy
Christine Halpin, Teacher
Private, Montrose

Annelise McDaniel, grade 11

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin ["Inside me is a black-eyed animal"] by Terrance Hayes
Los Angeles County High School for the Arts
Tina Vartanian, Teacher
Charter, Los Angeles

Isabella Michaels, grade 12

Cartoon Physics, part 1 by Nick Flynn
Hamilton HS Academy of Music and Performing Arts
Susan Requa, Teacher
Los Angeles Unified SD

Paloma Pascoe, grade 12

Backdrop Addresses Cowboy by Margaret Atwood
Immaculate Heart High School
Elizabeth Binggeli, Teacher
Private, Los Angeles

Samantha Rios, grade 12

Miss you. Would like to grab that chilled tofu we love. by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Mark Keppel High School
Dottie Burkhart, Teacher
Alhambra Unified SD

October Siems, grade 11

Truth is I would like to escape myself by Nour Al Ghraowi
John Burroughs High School
Julie Grene, Teacher
Burbank Unified SD

Alice Torresillas, grade 11

The Contract Says: We'd Like the Conversation to be Bilingual by Ada Limón
Lancaster High School
Elisa Frias, Teacher
Antelope Valley Union HSD

Maya Wong, grade 11

"Don't Let Me Be Lonely: "At the Airport Security Checkpoint" by Claudia Rankine
North High School
Delaiah Barth, Teacher
Torrance Unified SD


Joe Hernández-Kolski

Joe Hernández-Kolski

A two-time HBO Def Poet and Emmy Award-Winner, Joe Hernández-Kolski is a poet/educator. Originally from Chicago, Joe now lives in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of Princeton University where he worked closely with respected academics Dr. Cornel West and Nobel Prize Winner Toni Morrison. He is the proud host and co-founder of Downbeat 720, an open-mic for high school youth now in its 20th year.
Marissa Herrera

Marissa Herrera


Marissa Herrera is a Latina creative visionary and Los Angeles native. With a career spanning over 25 years as a leader in Arts Education and the entertainment industry, Marissa strives to create and share diverse and authentic stories on stage, tv and film.

Marissa is the Executive Artistic Director of 4C LAB, a non-profit arts organization that creates a safe space for young creative visionaries to share their stories through artistic expression to inspire positive social impact in our communities and the CEO of De Mi Alma Productions and is currently working in collaboration with "Fender Play," "The L.A. PhilHarmonic youth concert series" at The Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Derreck Reed

Derreck Reed


Derreck Reed, a Texan native now embraced by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, is well-versed in the realm of spoken art. Having served as a High School English & Theatre/Film Educator/Administrator/Keynote Speaker for over 13 years, his expertise spans education and the visual and performing arts. In the dynamic space of youth mentoring, Derreck has played a pivotal role in guiding and coaching emerging talents. His mission extends beyond the classroom, aiming to instill tangible speaking skills that empower young artists to radiate brilliance in any career path they embark upon.

Peggy Burt

Peggy Burt

Peggy Burt is a dance and theatre educator, yoga and mindfulness teacher and arts education coach/mentor. Her current work focuses on the intersection between the arts, social emotional learning and mindfulness, with English Learners. Her affiliations include the Los Angeles County Office of Education TEAL/TELA, the Los Angeles County Dept of Arts & Culture, the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, and CREATE CA. Peggy has her own consulting firm, Mindful Strategies, Inc., and is the co-author of the newly published Strategic Arts Education Planning Guide: Expanding Access to the Arts in Schools and Communities. Peggy was formerly the Executive Director of the Foundation for the California State Summer School for the Arts and is dedicated to uplifting the next generation of literary, performing and visual artists. She enjoyed a long and rewarding career in dance and holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Utah and a Master's degree in Information Science from the University of Michigan.
Jonathan Williams

Jonathan Williams

Jonathan Williams is a Mexican American raised in East Los Angeles, California on unceded Tongva territory. He is a published poet and creative visionary most notably for "40 before 40" and "Latino is Just A Name". His poems illuminate the diversity and underrepresentation of the emotional repression in my family and millions of others.