The West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts will present the statewide Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation contest for the fourth time in 2009. The program is administered by state arts agencies across the country. The contest is open to all West Virginia students in grades 9 - 12.
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.”
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,” said 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 to be held on March 7, 2009 in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, in Charleston. The WVDCH will provide overnight lodging for school winners and their families.
The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national finals in April. The national winner will receive a $20,000 scholarship.
Brook Johnson of Sissonville High School was West Virginia’s first Poetry Out Loud state champion in 2006. Liz McCormick from Capital High School was selected in 2007 and Carolyn Rose Garcia from Notre Dame High School won in 2008. McCormick and Garcia later placed in the top 12 in the national finals, garnering $1,000 each in scholarship money.
Registration is easy. The WVDCH has developed a web page solely for Poetry Out Loud. The registration forms are available at www.wvculture.org/arts/pol/index.html. Teachers can go to this site to order materials, register their schools for competition, or to contact the state coordinator directly for assistance. Students can visit the site for links that assist in training and poem selections, find articles about Poetry Out Loud or check out the photo gallery of past competitors.
The registration deadline for participants is Dec. 13, 2008. Individual schools and/or regional competitions must be completed by Feb. 3, 2009. For more information about the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, or to volunteer or register your school, contact Stacy Kepple, Poetry Out Loud coordinator for the Division, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 721, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org by the Dec. 13 deadline. Additional information is available at www.poetryoutloud.org.
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 Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural 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.
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