Monday, February 6, 2012

Poetry Out Loud!

For four years now, the Arts Council has partnered with the Louisiana Division of the Arts to present Poetry Out Loud in Southwest Louisiana. This innovative program began in 2005 when the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation came together to yield a program that has revolutionized the role of poetry in high schools. Poetry Out Loud challenges high school students to study and memorize poetry in a competitive setting while building public speaking skills, confidence, and character. Last year, the Louisiana State Champion, David Douglas, came from Washington-Marion High School in Lake Charles, and he will serve as a special guest judge at Regionals.

On Friday, February 17th, at 6 p.m., high school students representing several schools in the Lake Area will compete at the Central School Theater as part of Poetry Out Loud’s Southwest Louisiana Regional Competition. The students who compete at the Regional level have already made it through the first round of competition at their schools or local library. Poetry Out Loud challenges high school students to memorize and recite poetry on stage in a competitive setting.
From left: Justine Chiappetta of the Poetry Foundation;
David Douglas, State Champion; Dana LaFonta of
Louisiana Division of the Arts
Our judges include: Sherry Perkins, president of the Bayou Writers Group; J. Bruce Fuller, widely published poet; Jason Martinez of IberiaBank; Mindy Schwarzauer of O'Carroll Group; and David Douglas, Poetry Out Loud's 2011 Louisiana State Champion.

During this difficult budgetary time for the arts and education in Louisiana, it is important to continue supporting innovative programs such as Poetry Out Loud that produce concrete and beneficial results for both students and education. Matt Young, Executive Director of the Arts Council, stated, “The Arts Council’s camaraderie with the Louisiana Division of the Arts elevates the goals of education by giving students a solid foundation with regional and state organizations that strive to provide area residents with a strong climate for creative thinking.”

The top three students at the Regional Competition will not only win prizes but will also go on to compete with students from across Louisiana at the State Competition in Baton Rouge, and the state winner will receive a cash prize and a stipend for his or her school for the purchase of poetry books. The National Competition will be held in Washington D.C. and will award over $50,000 in prizes and stipends, including a $20,000 cash prize for the National Champion.

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