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Poetry Out Loud encourages the study of great poetry by offering a dynamic recitation competition and is open to students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 in public, private and parochial schools. Homeschooled students may participate by competing in a contest at a local school (at the school’s discretion) or with other local homeschooled students. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry.
The program is designed to fit into a teacher’s busy schedule and can take place over two to three weeks, and does not require full class periods. Teachers can work Poetry Out Loud into existing poetry units as the program satisfies most of the NCTE English/Language Arts Standards, as well as many of the state standards. Every teacher who participates in Poetry Out Loud will receive a free toolkit for classroom use.
Classroom winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to regional and state competitions and ultimately to the national finals. The state winner receives $200, plus $500 for his or her school library, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington to compete for the national championship and a $20,000 scholarship. The state first runner-up receives $100, plus $200 for his or her school library.
Last year more than 4,000 S.C. students participated, with Janae Claxton of Charleston County winning the state championship and advancing to nationals. This year, more than 375,000 students are expected to take part nationwide.
Nov. 22 is the deadline to register for the 2017-2018 school year. For more information or to register, visit the Poetry Out Loud web page, email Zuri Wilson-Seymore or call the South Carolina Arts Commission, (803) 734-8696.
The South Carolina Arts Commission partners with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring Poetry Out Loud to high schools across South Carolina.