Poetry Out Loud National Finals
by Gerry Hendershot.
The national finals of Poetry Out Loud are at Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University on Wednesday, April 26, 7:00-9:15. See it at Lisner--no ticket required. Or view the live webcast. For more information on the competition, go to http://www.poetryoutloud.org/
Poetry Out Loud (POL) is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in collaboration with arts organizations in the U.S. States and Territories. High school student chose poems from a list provided by NEA, and with the help of their teachers, learn to recite them from memory before an audience.
Competitions in the States yield State POL champions, who then compete in the National Finals in Washington DC. The semi-final round narrows the field to three State champs from each of three U.S. regions. Those nine compete for the National Prize of $20,000 the next night.
I attended a regional competition in Maryland and the finals in DC. The Maryland event was held on Saturday afternoon in an austere theatrical practice space in Baltimore. The DC event was on Friday night in the DC government's snazzy cable TV center, and had a club atmosphere, complete with MC, DJ, and colored lights. In both events, the students were outstanding!
The nine finalists competing on April 26 include Amos Koffa, the New Jersey State Champion. See a video performing one of his prize-winning poems here.