The Arkansas Arts Council will hold the 2009 state finals for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest at Pulaski Tech at 10 a.m. on March 7 in the Pulaski Technical College Campus Center Grand Hall. The competition, presented in partnership with the Arkansas Literary Festival, the Arkansas Department of Education, Pulaski Technical College, the EAST Initiative, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. 19 high school students from around Arkansas will compete in the final rounds.
Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the mastery of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic competition to high schools across the country. The contest uses a pyramid structure which begins at the classroom level, with winners advancing to the school-wide competition, then to the state capital competition and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, DC. More than 250,000 students across the country are expected to take part in Poetry Out Loud this year.
At the state finals, contestants will recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 400 classic and contemporary poems. The NEA and Poetry Foundation created a standards-based teacher's guide, a comprehensive website and a CD featuring poetry recitations by well-known actors and writers such as Anthony Hopkins, Alyssa Milano, N. Scott Momaday and Rita Dove.
"The Arkansas Arts Council is thrilled to continue Poetry Out Loud in Arkansas," said Joy Pennington, director of the Arkansas Arts Council. "We're so appreciative of Pulaski Technical College, the Arkansas Literary Festival, the Arkansas Department of Education, and the EAST Initiative for their assistance in developing a successful Poetry Out Loud program at the state level."
The state champion of the Poetry Out Loud Arkansas finals will win $200 and an all expense-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the National Finals in Washington, D.C., on April 26-28, 2009. The state champion's school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. In addition, the teacher of the state champion will also attend the national finals. The runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.