Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national poetry education program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. It is a project the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation that began in 2006 and last year engaged 365,000 students in competition for $50,000 in individual scholarship awards and school stipends. Poetry Out Loud is presented in Illinois through a partnership with the Illinois Arts Council, which works with arts organizations throughout the state to reach thousands of Illinois high school students each year.
"Just keep doing this! Poetry is a wonderful gift. A good poem is a friend for life."
Carbondale Community Arts has coordinated the competition in the southernmost region of the state since 2008. On February 23, 2012 CCA hosted the region’s fifth Poetry Out Loud regional contest in Carbondale at the Varsity Center for the Arts. Standing on the VCA’s East Theatre stage set for “Inherit the Wind”, participating students recited poems they had selected from the Poetry Out Loud anthology, a collection of more than a thousand works by poets ranging from Emily Dickenson, to Langston Hughes, to SIUC English Professor Rodney Jones.
Last year’s program was emceed by Benjamin Ponce (CCA office manager and POL coordinator). Following welcoming remarks from CCA President, Carolyn A. Snyder, the program opened with a performance by Jessica Robinson of the Thalia Chaltas poem, Because I Am Furniture. Jessica, a Carbondale Community High School senior, was a 2012 Illinois High School Associaion state finalst in poetry reading. Musical interludes were performed by pianist Daniel Mattingly.
Judges for this year’s contest were Allison Joseph, SIUC Associate Professor of English and poetry editor of the Crab Orchard Review; David Hanley-Tejeda, a doctoral candidate in the SIUC Department of Speech Communication; and Cynthia Roth, published poet and Instructor in the SIUC School of Art and Design. They scored each performance using a standardized rubric that included physical presence, vocie and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty (of selected poem), evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
After the recitations were completed, as volunteers were tabulating the results, judges were asked if they had any comments to share with the audience. Allison Joseph offered her congratulations to everyone in an observation that was echoed by her fellow judges: “Understanding and reciting poetry requires concentration and focus, and all the participants are to be commended.”
CCA joins Ms. Joseph in commending all the 2012 participants and congratulates 2012 POL regional winner Megan Kessler, a student at Clay City High School and regional runner-up Maggie Scuder, a junior at Carbondale Community High School. Both will advance to the Illinois statePoetry Out Loud contest, held on Thursday, March 29, at the LRS Theater in the Hoogland Center for the Arts.
Attendance at the state contest is also free, accessible, and open to the public.State and territory winners advance to National Poetry Out Loud Competition.
The Illinois state winner will advance to the Poetry Out Loud national finals May 13-15, 2012, in Washington, DC, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.
To learn more about Poetry Out Loud and explore the poems available for recitation in the Poetry Out Loud competitions, click this link: www.PoetryOutLoud.org.