Story last updated at 9/11/2013 - 5:46 pm
JUNEAU, ALASKA - The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation present Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, in partnership with Alaska State Council on the Arts and Juneau Arts & Humanities Council.
Poetry Out Loud is a program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. During fall and winter 2013-2014, schools are invited to participate in classroom and schoolwide contests, advancing to a state competition on March 11, 2014. State champions will advance to the National Finals, to take place on April 29-30, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Tong Thao from Colony High School, in Palmer was selected as the 2013 Alaska Poetry Out Loud champion and represented the state in the 2013 National Finals in Washington, D.C., last May. In Alaska only, more than 4,000 students from 39 high schools took part in the 2012-2013 Poetry Out Loud program. Over 365,000 students participated nationwide.
Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry - recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of rap music among youth. Poetry Out Loud invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English classroom. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.
"Poetry Out Loud connects young people with great works of poetry, as the beginning a lifelong relationship," said Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Our state arts agencies, schools, and arts organizations work to support the dedicated teachers who inspire their students to begin that journey. A poem can be a powerful force in bringing together a community."
"To memorize a great poem is to make a friend of it for life," said John Barr, President of the Poetry Foundation. "Poetry Out Loud brings new energy to an ancient art by returning it to the classrooms of America."
The NEA and the Poetry Foundation have partnered to provide administrative grants to state arts agencies and awards, and will coordinate the National Finals next April. With this support, the Alaska State Council on the Arts will work in partnership with the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, plus communities and districts across Alaska to encourage participation.
Additionally, the NEA and the Poetry Foundation will provide state arts agencies with free, standards-based curriculum materials for use by participating schools. These materials include print and online poetry anthologies, a Teacher's Guide with sample lesson plans to help instructors teach recitation and performance, a Learning Recitation DVD, and an audio CD featuring well-known actors and writers such as James Earl Jones, Anthony Hopkins, and Rita Dove. Program materials are available for download on the website, www.poetryoutloud.org, which offers additional resources.