April 12, 2016
NEA Contact: Sally Gifford, 202-682-5606
Poetry Foundation Contact: Elizabeth Burke-Dain, 312-799-8016
WASHINGTON, DC – Poet Edgar Albert Guest once asked “How much grit do you think you’ve got?” On May 3 and 4 in Washington, DC, high school students from every state will test their grit and wit in the national finals of Poetry Out Loud, the nation’s largest youth poetry recitation competition. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that encourages high school students around the country to learn great classic and contemporary poetry through a recitation competition that culminates with the national finals.
Fifty-three state champions will face off, after advancing from a field of more than 317,000 competitors in every state; Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They will vie for the title of National Champion and a $20,000 prize. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be awarded to the top nine finalists and their schools. The Poetry Out Loud national finals are free and will be hosted by poet Elizabeth Acevedo and feature a performance by hip- hop artist and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon.
In honor of the NEA’s 50th anniversary, this year’s Poetry Out Loud National Finals offer state champions another opportunity to showcase their creativity through an optional competition called Poetry Ourselves. State champions may submit an original work of poetry in written or video format, and the winners will be announced at the May 4 National Finals. The two winners and runners-up will be selected by Patricia Smith, poetry slam champion and National Book Award finalist.
“The Poetry Foundation has never been more thrilled to witness the cultural reach that Poetry Out Loud has extended to students from America’s heartland to its cities,” said Poetry Foundation President Henry Bienen. “This program bears out our belief that poetry can unify, teach, and change lives.”
“In a recent survey, four out of five teachers said that Poetry Out Loud helped boost their students’ confidence and improve their analytical skills,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The NEA is proud to support arts education partnerships such as Poetry Out Loud that help students discover the arts and help them succeed in life.”
The Poetry Out Loud semifinals will be on Tuesday, May 3, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm at Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC. Nine finalists will advance to the national finals, also held at Lisner Auditorium, on Wednesday, May 4, from 7:00 to 9:15 pm. Both events are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.
Live Webcast and Viewing Parties
Poetry fans who can’t attend the live event can cheer on their state champions with a live, one-time only webcast of both the semifinals and the finals. Make it social by organizing a Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing Party. Register at arts.gov and find tips on hosting your party, promotional materials, and details on other viewing parties around the country. Follow the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POL16. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit arts.gov or call 202-682-5606.
Poetry Out Loud Partnerships
The national finals are the culmination of efforts by many partners. As national partners, the NEA and the Poetry Foundation have supported the administration of the program, created educational materials and an online poetry anthology, and funded both the state and national finals. State arts agencies have implemented the program in high schools nationwide and organized state competitions, often in collaboration with local arts organizations. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals are administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
Schools interested in registering for the 2016-2017 Poetry Out Loud contest should contact their state arts agency. More information is available at www.poetryoutloud.org.
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 partnerships, prizes, and programs. For more information, visit poetryfoundation.org.
About Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation develops partnerships and programs that reinforce artists’ capacity to create and present work, advance access to and participation in the arts, and promote a more sustainable arts ecology.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016.