N.C. High School Students in ‘Poetry Out Loud’ Competition Showcase the Written Word

Raleigh, N.C. (February 21, 2017) — North Carolina high school students from 30 school districts across the state will take the stage on Saturday, March 4, in Greensboro, to compete in the annual statewide Poetry Out Loud Semifinals and Final Competition. The state winner will advance to the Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, D.C. this April.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, and coordinated by the North Carolina Arts Council, the poetry recitation semifinals and finals will be held at Triad Stage and the Greensboro Public Library respectively, both located in downtown Greensboro. This event is free and open to the public.

“Poetry Out Loud utilizes the dynamic aspects of poetry, spoken word and theater in high school classrooms,” said Sharon Hill, Arts in Education director for the N.C. Arts Council. “Through the program, students can master public speaking skills, increase reading comprehension scores, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.”

Poetry Out Loud features recitations by students from public and private schools, including schools as far away as Jackson County in the mountains to Dare and New Hanover on the North Carolina coast. Click here for a list of District Champions.

“The national program demonstrates the collaboration between national, state and local organizations in the classroom,” said Hill. “We are grateful to all our partners, especially the Greensboro Public Library and the Greensboro Public Library Foundation, for making poetry accessible and meaningful to students across North Carolina.”

The program begins at 10:30 a.m. at Triad Stage, 232 South Elm Street in Greensboro. Three concurrent semifinals will be held throughout the theater, with finalists announced after lunch.

Finalists will then advance to the final round of competition, which begins around 2:45 p.m. at the main branch of the Greensboro Public Library, 219 North Church Street. All rounds of competition are free and open to the public.

Distinguished members of North Carolina’s literary and theater community will serve as judges, including Jaki Shelton Green, Ansel Elkins, Cassandra Williams, Matthew Wimberley, Beth Copeland, Lenard D. Moore, Anna Lena Phillips Bell, Debra Kaufman, Crystal Simone Smith, Gretchen Pratt, and Howard Craft. 

Master of Ceremony is Metta Sáma, and also emceeing the morning will be Terri Kirby Erickson and Eurydice White. North Carolina Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson will be our featured poet for the day.

Schools participating in the program receive supplemental curriculum materials from the NEA, that include an online anthology of poetry to select from, a program guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance, online video resources, promotional and media guides, and access to a comprehensive website.

Students first participate at the school level, then compete at the district level. Winners from district competitions advance to the state level competition. The winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national championship at George Washington University, scheduled for April 25-26. The national finals will be webcast live, and our state champion will compete with state winners from across the country for a $20,000 college scholarship.

The state winner's school receives a $500 stipend to be used for purchasing poetry books. The runner-up at the state level receives $100, with his or her school receiving a $200 stipend for buying poetry books.

For more information, contact Melissa Hassard, N.C. Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, at (336) 937-5319 or melissa@melissahassard.com or visit http://ncarts.org/education/poetry-out-loud

For questions about access or disability accommodations, please contact Emily Catherine Mealor, North Carolina Arts Council Accessibility Coordinator at (919) 807-6524.