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March 8, 2011

Knoxville Student Wins Poetry Out Loud State Competition

Summer Awad will represent Tennessee at national competition in April


NASHVILLE - - From a competitive field of 34 students from across the state, Summer Awad of Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville, was named the Poetry Out Loud State Champion. The state finals were held Saturday, March 5 on the campus of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. As a result of winning the state finals, Awad will receive awards totaling $1,200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she will represent the state in the national competition on April 27 – 29.

The day-long state finals involved three rounds of competition. For her final recitation, Awad selected the poem, “For the young who want to” by Marge Piercy, a poem about how artistic success takes compromise and sacrifice.

The first runner-up was MaryBeth Yancey from Dickson County High School in Dickson, Tennessee. She received $600, with $200 for her school library.

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 school students 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, D.C.

“I love poetry and the arts, so this has been a really great experience for me,” said Awad. “I am really looking forward to participating on the national level in Washington, D.C. I think it will be a wonderful experience to be exposed to different poetry, and to meet the people from other states.”

According to Ann Talbott Brown, arts education project coordinator for the Tennessee Arts Commission, more than 320,000 students from nearly 2,000 high schools around the country took part in Poetry Out Loud in 2009-2010. At the recent state finals, contestants recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 650 classic and contemporary poems.

“We congratulate Summer on this great accomplishment, and we wish her the best as she represents Tennessee in the National Finals,” said Rich Boyd, executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission. “There were many talented students participating and the competition was extremely tough this year.”

Guest judges presided over the competition, including Ethan Castelo, instructor of English at Middle Tennessee State University; Blas Falconer, associate professor of creative writing at Austin Peay State University; Malcom Glass, retired director of the writing program at the Center for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University; Richard Jackson, professor of creative writing at University of Tennessee Chattanooga; Whitney Jo, managing director of Playhouse on the Square; and Stephanie Pruitt, instructor of English at Vanderbilt University. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including physical presence, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, and accuracy. Sponsors included the Tennessee Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University, and the Riverview Inn.

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by building on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the popularity of rap music among youth. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Now in its sixth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover classic and contemporary poetry. To find out how to get involved in the 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, visit www.poetryoutloud.org.

 

About The Tennessee Arts Commission
When the Tennessee Arts Commission was created in 1967, it was given a special mandate by the General Assembly to stimulate and encourage the presentation of performing, visual and literary arts throughout the state and to encourage public interest in the cultural heritage of Tennessee. Through a variety of programs, the Commission has encouraged excellence in artistic expression through the state's artists and arts organizations. That commitment has continued to expand through the years to ensure that the citizens of Tennessee have access to, and the opportunity to participate in the arts. For more information visit the Commission’s Website: www.arts.state.tn.us

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.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The NEA 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. For more information visit www.arts.gov.

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