Washington, DC— The National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation are recognizing and celebrating the 2020 Poetry Out Loud™ student champions by distributing cash prize awards, sharing videos of poetry recitations by participants across the United States, and announcing the winners of the Poetry Ourselves contest.
Honoring Champions Across the Country
The 2020 Poetry Out Loud national finals were cancelled due to COVID-19, and several state finals were either cancelled or held virtually. Poetry Out Loud will honor both the students who won their state Poetry Out Loud competition (state champions) as well as students who advanced to the state finals in states that were unable to hold a competition.
In the coming weeks, videos of these students reciting a selection of poems from the Poetry Out Loud anthology will be released through arts.gov and poetryoutloud.org as well as on Twitter.
“From analyzing poems to spending hours memorizing and honing their recitations, we know the extraordinary amount of hard work and personal effort that each student put into the program,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “While we are disappointed not to have a national finals competition this year, we look forward to sharing students’ recitations through this video project and the resumption of the competition next school year.”
To honor the achievements of these students, each state champion will receive a $1,000 prize. In states where the finals were cancelled, the state arts agency will receive $1,000 to either award to a state champion named at a later date or divide among the students who advanced to the state finals. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded for Poetry Out Loud.
“Poetry Out Loud is a premiere event to celebrate months of preparation culminating with poetry at center stage, and we share in the disappointment of cancelling the national finals,” said Henry Bienen, president of the Poetry Foundation. “We preserved our commitment to recognize the students’ passion and hard work by awarding the prizes in as equitable a way as possible.”
Celebrating Original Work by Young Poets
Competitors also had the opportunity to participate in the Poetry Ourselves competition by submitting original works of poetry in spoken or written form.
A companion to Poetry Out Loud, the Poetry Ourselves competition gives students the opportunity to submit original poetry. This year, Poetry Ourselves submissions were judged by poet Carmen Gimenéz Smith. The competition was open to state champions as well as students who advanced to their state final in states that were unable to hold a competition this year.
Tessa Kresch, a student at Saint Johns School in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves spoken poetry winner for the poem “I Wonder What Will Happen Tomorrow.” Kieran Ellis, the 2020 Idaho Poetry Out Loud State Champion and a student at Kuna High School in Kuna, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves written poetry winner for the poem “Drought.”
Eden Getahun, the 2020 California Poetry Out Loud State Champion and a student at CK McClatchy High School in Sacramento, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves spoken poetry runner-up for the poem “Never Forget.” Max Feliciano Laracuente, a student at Residential Center of Academic Opportunities of Mayaguez (C.R.O.E.M.) in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves written poetry runner-up for the poem “Going Home.”
These winning submissions are available at the links above.
About Poetry Out Loud
A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud™ is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. By performing poetry, students can master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn more about literary history and contemporary life. Since 2005, more than four million students from 16,000 high schools in all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have participated in Poetry Out Loud. Starting with the 2020-21 school year, Poetry Out Loud will expand to Guam and American Samoa.
For schools that choose to participate, the program starts in the classroom, where teachers may use the Poetry Out Loud toolkit to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Students select, memorize, and recite poems from an anthology of more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems. Winners advance from the classroom to the school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. More information about the program and how to participate in the 2020-21 competition is available at poetryoutloud.org.
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About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts 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 Arts Endowment 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. Visit arts.gov to learn more.
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About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American 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 literary prizes and programs. For more information, visit poetryfoundation.org.
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