Story last updated at 4/24/2013 - 2:17 pm
Tong Thao from Palmer will be the first student competing at the Poetry Out Loud National Semifinal, Region 3, in Washington D.C., at 5 p.m. ET (1 p.m. Alaska Time), Monday, April 29.
At the end of National Poetry Month, 53 students from across the country will converge in Washington, DC, on April 29-30, 2013 to compete in the National Finals of Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, the nation's largest youth poetry recitation competition. These young competitors advanced from a field of some 375,000 students who tested their skills in poetry recitation in more than 2,000 schools nationwide. The top finalists and their schools will receive $50,000 in awards. Anna Deavere Smith, the award-winning playwright, actress, and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship Award, will host the Tuesday evening finals. Guest judges for the National Finals are poets Patricia Smith and Eduardo Corral, BBC Correspondent Jane O'Brien, Kevin Dyels, director of the Interpreting Services Division of TCS Associates, and Tree Swenson, executive director of the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, Washington. The featured performer at the National Finals is singer-cellist Ben Sollee.
Now in its eighth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The program encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high school students across the country. Poetry Out Loud gives students an opportunity to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.
The 53 champions will gather at the Poetry Out Loud semifinals on Monday, April 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC. Nine finalists will advance to the National Finals, also held at Lisner Auditorium, on Tuesday, April 30, from 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.
Not in Washington, DC but still want to catch the competition? You can watch the entire semifinals and finals through a live, one-time only webcast at www.arts.gov. Or make plans now to gather fellow poetry fans and host a Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing Party: http://www.arts.gov/national/poetry/2013-viewing-parties1.html