Washington, DC— Reciting the words of poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Li-Young Lee, and Emily Brontë, students from all across the country will compete for the title of Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a grand prize of $20,000. The national finals will take place in Washington, DC, April 24-25, 2018 and include students representing every state, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These students have advanced from more than 300,000 who participated nationwide.
Poetry Out Loud is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and the state arts agencies that encourages students to explore classic and contemporary poetry through memorization and performance. Now in its 13th year, Poetry Out Loud helps students to develop analytical and public speaking skills, while building self-confidence. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends to purchase poetry materials will be awarded at the Poetry Out Loud national finals.
“These students pour their dedication and skills into reciting their selected poems in a meaningful way that connects with those who are listening,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to join the Poetry Foundation and the state arts agencies in making it possible for students all across the country to connect with great works of poetry through this competition.”
“Each year, hundreds of thousands of high school students participate in Poetry Out Loud in both rural and urban communities across the country,” says Henry Bienen, president of the Poetry Foundation. “We are honored to provide this opportunity for students to learn more about poetry through the act of memorization and recitation.”
On Tuesday, April 24, the state champions will compete throughout the day in three semifinal rounds from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC.
The top nine finalists will advance to the finals competition on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, also at Lisner Auditorium from 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. ET. Poet and author Elizabeth Acevedo will return for her third year as host, and musician Kaia Kater will perform. Judges for the April 25 finals include Robert Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress; Lavina Jadhwani, Chicago-based theater director; Robin Coste Lewis, poet and National Book Award winner; Dawn Lundy Martin, poet and professor at the University of Pittsburgh; and Virgil Suárez, poet and professor of at Florida State University. Both events are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.
Both days of competition will be available through a live, one-time-only webcast at arts.gov. Schools and organizations that wish to organize a viewing party of some or all of the competition can register at arts.gov, where you can also find tips on hosting your party and details on other viewing parties around the country. Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using #POL18.
The state champions also had the opportunity to compete in the Poetry Ourselves competition by submitting an original work of poetry in one of two categories: either a written poem or a video of a spoken poem. The winner and runner-up in each category will be selected by poet Jamaal May and announced at the April 25 national finals competition.
About Poetry Out Loud
Since its inception, 3.6 million students from 14,000 high schools nationwide have participated in the Poetry Out Loud. Poetry Out Loud begins in the classroom, where teachers use the Poetry Out Loud toolkit to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Students select, memorize, and recite poems from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to the school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. The Poetry Out Loud national finals are administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. More information about the program and how to participate is at poetryoutloud.org.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more about NEA.
About Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs. For more information, visit poetryfoundation.org.
About Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation develops partnerships and programs that reinforce artists’ capacity to create and present work and advance access to and participation in the arts. The Foundation was created in 1979 and is a private non-profit organization that is closely allied with the region’s state arts councils and the National Endowment for the Arts. It combines funding from state and federal resources with private support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to address needs in the arts from a regional, national, and international perspective. For more information, please visit www.midatlanticarts.org.