ArtsWA joins other state arts agencies in partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation to support Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation competition that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. By participating in the program, students also master public speaking skills and build self confidence. Each state hosts a competition annually, culminating in a national competition among the state winners.
Langston Ward of Mead High School, in Spokane, won the Washington State Poetry Out Loud finals on March 9 and has moved on to the national finals this coming Monday and Tuesday, April 29 and 30, in Washington D.C. He will recite “The Gift” by Li-Young Lee, “The Bad Old Days” by Kenneth Rexroth, and “A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown” by Walt Whitman. Watch a video of Langston’s performance of the Whitman poem below. This is the second state championship for Ward, who represented Washington state in the 2012 national finals. He placed in the top nine students nationally last year.
Langston Ward recites “A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown” by Walt Whitman:
More than 23,000 students from 76 schools in Washington state participated in Poetry Out Loud this year. Following classroom-level and then school-wide competitions, top students from the schools continued on to one of seven regional finals, held in Northwest Washington, Southwest Washington, Central Washington, Eastern Washington, Southeast Washington, and the Puget Sound region.Thirteen students advanced to the state finals, which took place Saturday, March 9, at Theatre on the Square, in Tacoma. Through three rounds of poetry recitations the students performed works selected from an
anthology of more than 600 classic and contemporary poems. Participantswere judged by a panel of experts in poetry and performance. The panelists scored each student based on presence, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, accuracy, and other criteria.
Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Poetry Foundation. This is the eighth year that high school students in Washington state took part in Poetry Out Loud, a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry. This year, the Poetry Out Loud National Finals will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the National Champion.
Poetry Out Loud goes multimedia with a live webcast and viewing parties
You can watch the entire semifinals and finals through a live, one-time only webcast at www.arts.gov. Or make plans now to gather fellow poetry fans and host a Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing Party. Register here and find tips on hosting your party, promotional materials, and details on other viewing parties around the country.
The NEA is taking Poetry Out Loud online on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, hashtag #POL13. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit arts.gov or call 202-682-5606.
Good Luck, Langston!