Nebraska Poetry Out Loud Finals on March 9

The Nebraska Arts Council 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 Saturday, March 9, eleven Nebraska high school students who have advanced from regional competitions in Kearney, Norfolk and Omaha will participate at the Sheldon Museum of Art, 12 & R Street in Lincoln from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. The Sheldon is providing complementary use of its Abbott Auditorium for the event, which is free of charge, and open to the public.

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 regional competitions and the state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, DC. Nationwide, some 365,000 students from more than 2,000 high schools took part in last year’s Poetry Out Loud program. Distinguished Nebraskan poets, actors and educators will participate in the state finals. The emcee is poet Matt Mason. Judges include James Fritzler, theatre professor from Hastings College; Twyla Hansen, poet; Tricia Parker, Language Arts Director for the Nebraska Department of Education; and D. Kevin Williams, actor.

Schools represented at state finals this year include:

• Brownell Talbot School, Omaha
• Burwell High School
• Cedar Catholic High School, Hartington
• Central High School, Omaha
• Ewing Public Schools
• McCook Sr. High School
• Parkview Christian School, Lincoln
• St. Patrick High School, North Platte
• Skutt Catholic High School, Omaha
• South Sioux City High School
• Thayer Central Community Schools, Hebron

At the State Finals Competition, contestants will recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 650 classic and contemporary poems. Students participate in the Poetry Out Loud program have benefitted from educational materials created by the Arts Endowment and the Poetry Foundation, as well as complementary guest artist visits with NAC Roster poets and actors who specialize in poetry performance.

The Nebraska champion of Poetry Out Loud will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC, on April 29-30, 2013. Also, the winner will receive $200, and the winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The top three contestants each receive an original hand-blown glass trophy. Additional awards for state contenders include poetry books and gift certificates.

Nebraskans for the Arts purchases provides the trophies and gift certificates, in addition to coordinating each of the regional competitions. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will bestow a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 award for the National Champion.

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