Utah Arts & Museums announces the state finals for Poetry Out Loud, the national poetry recitation competition. The state finals will be held on March 12, 2014, at 7 p.m., Vieve Gore Concert Hall in the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts at co-host Westminster College. The Poetry Out Loud Utah state finals event is free and open to the public. The champion will go to Washington, D.C., April 29 and 30 to represent Utah in the national finals and compete to win a $20,000 scholarship.
Approximately 4,563 students from 39 high schools around the state participated in Poetry Out Loud activities (some schools included the entire student body) and competed in school and regional competitions. Regional competitions were held in Gunnison, Provo, Roosevelt, St. George, South Jordan and Woods Cross.
At the Jewett Center, students will recite works they selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems. Students from the following schools will compete in the finals:
American Fork High School, American Fork
Beaver High School, Beaver
East Hollywood High School, West Valley City
Judge Memorial High School, Salt Lake City
North Sevier High School, Salina
Union High School, Roosevelt
“These outstanding students who participate in Poetry Out Loud really immerse themselves in the poems and get a chance to improve their public-speaking skills,” said Lynnette Hiskey, Utah Arts & Museums Director. “The final state competition is an exciting evening, and the state champion also honors us with a recitation at the Mountain West Arts Conference and Governor’s Leadership in the Arts Awards luncheon in May.”
The evening will be emceed by Ken Verdoia, and there will be an appearance by Utah Poet Laureate Lance Larsen.
Utah has had five finalists in the national top ten. Last year, state champion Devin Jones of West Jordan High School received an honorable mention and $1,000 at the national finals. In 2012, senior MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School took third place in the national finals and received a $5,000 award. She was also invited to return to Washington, D.C., to recite at the National Book Festival. In 2008, Skyline High School senior Madison Niermeyer also placed third at the national competition and received a $5,000 scholarship award. Niermeyer was contacted by noted Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti to congratulate her on her recitation of his poem I Am Waiting.
The 2014 Poetry Out Loud National Finals will be at the Lisner Auditorium, The George Washington University, April 30 (semifinals will take place on April 29). The semifinals and finals will be webcast live at arts.gov.
Poetry Out Loud, presented in partnership with 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. Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers across the nation by capitalizing on trends in poetry recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, the spoken word, and theatre into the English classroom. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.