October 21, 2010
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts (WVCA) will present the statewide Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, now in its sixth year, on March 4 - 5, 2011. The program is administered by state arts agencies across the country. The contest is open to all West Virginia students in grades 9 - 12.
The program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. By encouraging high school students to memorize and perform great poems, Poetry Out Loud brings the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, oral presentation, and theater into the English class. It also builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as demonstrated by the popularity of rap music. “This is a very important program,” says Jeff Pierson, director of arts for the WVDCH. “The National Endowment for the Arts has given West Virginia students an excellent opportunity to showcase their passion for poetry and their talent for performance.”
Schools are invited to participate in classroom and school-wide contests. School winners will advance to a state competition taking place over two days to accommodate the growing popularity of the contest. The semi-final round will be held on Friday, March 4, 2011, and the final round on Saturday, March 5, in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, in Charleston.
The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national finals, April 27 - 29, 2011. At the national finals, Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in scholarship prizes and school stipends, including $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud national champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists respectively. The remaining nine finalists each receive $1,000, and the schools of the top 12 finalists will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books. Last year, more than 300,000 students were involved in competitions nationwide.
To promote the contest and provide an easy registration process, the WVDCH has developed a Web page solely for Poetry Out Loud. The page can be accessed at www.wvculture.org/arts/pol/index.html. Teachers can go online to order materials, register their schools for competition, or to contact the state coordinator directly for assistance. Students may go online to find helpful links that assist in training and poem selection, find articles related to Poetry Out Loud, or to check the photo gallery of past competitors.
Poetry Out Loud is a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, the oldest English-language monthly publication dedicated to verse. John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation, says “The public recitation of great poetry is a way to honor the speaker, the poem, and the audience all at once.”
The registration deadline for participants is Dec. 1, 2010. Individual schools and/or regional competitions must be completed by Feb. 1, 2011.
In 2006, Brook Johnson, representing Sissonville High School, was West Virginia’s first Poetry Out Loud state champion. Liz McCormick from Capital High School was selected in 2007 and Carolyn Rose Garcia from Notre Dame High School won the state championship in 2008. The 2009 winner was Jasmine Lewis from Spring Valley High School. She won the competition again in 2010.
Many opportunities are available for participation in this program. To volunteer, for more information, or to register, contact Stacy Kepple, Poetry Out Loud coordinator, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 721, or e-mail her at Stacy.L.Kepple@wv.gov. Additional information is available online at www.poetryoutloud.org and at www.wvculture.org/arts/pol.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.