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March 6 , 2013

Tennessee Arts Commission Announces Whitney Baxter As The 2013 Poetry Out Loud State Champion

NASHVILLE, TN - From a competitive field of more than 1500 students across the state, Whitney Baxter from Providence Academy in Johnson City, has received the title of 2013 Poetry Out Loud Tennessee State Champion.  The state finals were held at the Tennessee Governor’s Residence on Saturday, March 2, 2013. The first runner-up was Anita Norman from Arlington High School in Arlington.

Baxter is thrilled to be representing Tennessee at on the national level.  She commented, “I love reciting these poems. So, naturally I am most looking forward to performing them and representing Tennessee at the national level. When I am on stage, I feel I am right where I am supposed to be. There is no other feeling like it. I can’t wait to get on that stage at nationals and give it all I’ve got!”

Whitney Baxter’s final recitation was “Poor Angels” by Edward Hirsch is a poem about a soul not wanting to leave its worldly body. The poet and author, Edward Hirsch has won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1987, as he has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation and received a MacArthur “genius” award in 1997.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational material 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 Nationals Finals in Washington, DC. Some 365,000 students from more than 2,000 high schools took part in the 2011 – 2012 Poetry Out Loud program.

At the state finals in Nashville, Poetry Out Loud contestants recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 650 classic and contemporary poems. The anthology, a website (www.poetryoutloud.org) a teacher’s guide and media samples of poetry recitation were created by the National Endowment for the Art6s and the Poetry Foundation as free educational resources for high school students and teachers.

The Tennessee State Champion, Whitney Baxter received an award of $1000 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete for the national championship.  Providence Academy School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. First runner-up Anita Norman received $500, with $200 for her school library.
Guest judges presided over the competition, including:  Malcolm Glass, poet and retired professor from Austin Peay State University;  Thandiwe Shiphrah, poet;  Keith Norris, professor at Pellissippi State Community College; and Whitney Jo, directing manager of Playhouse on Square.  Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including physical presence, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, and accuracy.

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 eighth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high schools students to discover classic and contemporary poetry. To find out how to get involved in the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, visit www.poetryoutloud.org.


About the Tennessee Arts Commission
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 www.tn.gov/arts

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It 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, please visit www.poetryfoundation.org

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at arts.gov.



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