West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History

West Virginia Division of Culture and History Announces Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest High School Students in West Virginia Invited to Compete in National Poetry Recitation Contest


     CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Culture and History invites high school students from across the state who attend public and private schools and who are homeschooled to enter its eighth annual Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. The national program is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, in partnership with the division.  It is a challenging opportunity for high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.     

     Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to develop a better understanding of, and appreciation for great poetry,” said Cicely Bosley, Arts in Education coordinator for the division. “Participating in this program gives them an opportunity to consider poems in-depth, taking a sometimes complicated idea and wrestling with it to come to a better understanding of the poem’s message and a better understanding of themselves.”

     Local school competitions take place from November 2012 to January 2013. Winners in these classroom and school competitions will move to the state finals at the Culture Center in March; the state champion advances to the national competition in Washington, D.C., in April.

     “In the 2011-2012 school year, 23 West Virginia high schools held competitions,” Bosley said.  “Sixty-four teachers worked with 4,233 students at the local levels. Twenty-one finalists competed at the state event.”

     Bruce McCuskey from Nitro High School, Nitro, Kanawha County, was the 2012 West Virginia Poetry Out Loud champion and represented the state in the 2012 National Finals. Carolyn Rose Garcia, a Clarksburg Notre Dame graduate who was the 2008 West Virginia champion, is featured on a learning recitation DVD, which is included in the national education materials provided by the NEA and the Poetry Foundation.

     “State arts agencies like the Division of Culture and History receive free, standards-based curriculum materials for use by participating public and private high schools,” Bosley said. “These materials include print and online poetry anthologies, a Teacher’s Guide with sample lesson plans to help instructors teach recitation and performance, and the Learning Recitation DVD featuring Garcia.”  Program materials are available for download on the website, www.poetryoutloud.org, which offers additional resources.

     Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster new generations 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 of 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.”

     Poetry Out Loud takes one to three weeks of classroom time and may be incorporated with existing poetry units. Public and private high school teachers and homeschool associations that want to learn more about the program and become a part of the official Poetry Out Loud program must register by Dec. 1, 2012. For more information and registration, visit http://www.wvculture.org/arts/pol/index.html and contact the coordinator, Cicely Bosley, at cicely.j.bosley@wv.gov (304)-558-0240.

     Students who participate in the official Poetry Out Loud program may be eligible to compete in the 2012-2013 state and National Finals. Each state champion will receive $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship. The state champion’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up in each state will receive $100, and $200 for his or her school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in cash and school stipends at the National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

     The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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