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March 11, 2010

Tennessee Arts Commission Announces Poetry Out Loud State Finals

High school students in Tennessee compete in national poetry recitation contest

NASHVILLE  - - The Tennessee Arts Commission announces the state finals for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The competition, 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. On March 20, 2010, more than 40 high school students will participate in the Poetry Out Loud state finals at the W. O. Smith Nashville Community Music School, located at 1125 8th Avenue South.  The finals will take place from 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, DC. Nearly 300,000 students across the country took part in Poetry Out Loud in 2008-2009. At W. O. Smith, contestants will recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 600 classic and contemporary poems. Students participating in the Poetry Out Loud program have benefited from educational materials created by the Arts Endowment and the Poetry Foundation. These materials include a standards-based teacher’s guide, a comprehensive website, a best performances DVD, and a CD featuring poetry recitations by well-known actors and writers such as Anthony Hopkins and Rita Dove.

“The Commission has always placed a priority on the young people of Tennessee, in the projects funded and initiatives generated by the agency,” says Rich Boyd, executive director of the Commission. “Poetry Out Loud brings attention to creative high school students and outstanding dedicated instructors, providing recognition and reward beyond the classroom curriculum.  Our partnership of this program with the National Endowment for the Arts also offers scholarship opportunities for Tennessee students.”

The master of ceremonies for the Tennessee finals will be Pacer Harp of the Renaissance Center in Dickson. Guest judges for the event include: Earl S. Braggs, UC Foundation/Battle professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Blas Falconer, director of creative writing at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville; Mark Jarman, centennial professor of English and director of creative writing at Vanderbilt University in Nashville; and Whitney Jo, managing director of Playhouse on the Square in Memphis. The event is free and open to the public. For more information on the state finals, contact Ann Brown at ann.brown@tn.gov or by phone at 615-532-5939 or visit: www.arts.state.tn.us/POL_TN.htm.


Poetry Out Loud Prizes
The winner of the Poetry Out Loud Tennessee Finals will receive $1200, and the winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second place finalist will receive $600, with $200 for his or her school library. The state champion of the Poetry Out Loud Tennessee Finals will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with a teacher) to compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC, on April 26-27, 2010. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will bestow a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 prize for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest annual national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, visit: www.poetryfoundation.org.

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