Talented young poets from Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties compete in OC RYSE

Orange County School of the Arts’ (OCSA) Creative Writing Conservatory hosts its sixth annual Orange County Regional Youth Slam Event (OC RYSE), on April 13-14, bringing together aspiring young writers from across Southern California for a dynamic and engaging poetry competition. Student teams compete by performing a dramatic recitation of a classic poem. They also write and perform an original response poem that echoes elements from the classic work. OC RYSE is the only performance poetry competition of its kind in the county and features nearly 50 high school students.

Hosted by Phil Kaye, a poet and co-founder of Project VOICE, the competition gives students the unique opportunity to receive feedback and mentorship from experienced writers, performers and professors. For the students’ performance of the classic poem, they are judged on dramatic delivery, depth of understanding and difficulty. The response poem is judged on the usage of poetic elements, content, dramatic delivery and its connection with the classic poem. Teams of up to seven students each from high schools, after-school clubs and other organizations are eligible to compete. Weeks prior to the performance, students attend a poetry workshop conducted by local poet, publisher, teacher and OCSA alumni parent Raundi Moore-Kondo.

Josh Wood, OCSA’s director of creative writing, said OC RYSE helps students to build confidence because of the performance aspect of the competition.

“Writers don’t tend to be the most self-confident of people, especially during their teenage years. OC RYSE gives these students the space to practice, slowly and methodically build up their skills, then deliver their poems to hundreds of people in a captivated audience. They walk away feeling successful, and it can be a life-changing experience,” Wood said.

An additional goal of OC RYSE is to increase the public’s exposure to the moving power of poetry by featuring the performances of talented young poets.

“Performance poetry is meant to be heard live. It works off a different foundation, incorporating the basic elements of good poetry: solid imagery, dynamic word choice, rhythm. Keeping people’s attention live can be hard. Keeping people’s attention with poetry can be even harder. This art form challenges practitioners to be engaging in surprising, continuous ways,” Wood said.

OC RYSE takes place at OCSA’s Center for the Arts (801 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701). All student teams compete on Saturday, April 13, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. The top four teams that advance to the finals receive a workshop from Phil Kaye and perform again on Sunday, April 14, from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. The April 13 event is free to attend. Tickets for April 14 are available online at boxoffice.ocsarts.net.

About Orange County School of the Arts
The nationally recognized Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) provides an unparalleled arts and academic education in a creative, challenging and nurturing environment to a diverse student body passionate about the arts, preparing them to reach their highest potential. Founded in 1987 and still led by visionary educator Ralph Opacic, Ed.D., OCSA currently serves nearly 2,200 gifted students in grades seven through 12 from more than 100 cities throughout California. In addition to a college-preparatory academic program, OCSA offers pre-professional arts training in 15 conservatories within the schools of applied arts, dance, fine & media arts, music and theater. The nonprofit public charter school relies solely on private donations, totaling $10 million annually, to fund the pre-professional arts training programs. For additional information, visit www.ocsarts.net.

This article was released by Orange County School of the Arts.