March 29, 2010

State Champion Named at NJ Poetry Out Loud

State Champion Named at NJ Poetry Out Loud Competition

Up Next: National Poetry Competition in Washington, DC

3/22/10 - (Trenton, NJ) Shamsuddin Abdul-Hamid, a senior from Arts High School in Newark, was named State Champion in the NJ Poetry Out Loud competition, a national poetry recitation program. The state finals took place last week at Drumthwacket, the official residence of the Governor of New Jersey. Mr. Abdul-Hamid will move on to represent New Jersey in the national finals in Washington DC next month to compete against 51 other Champions from every state and territory across the nation, all vying for the national title and the chance to win prizes including scholarships for college.

Now in its fifth year, Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and implemented by state arts council’s across the country. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts sponsors NJ Poetry Out Loud and works closely with a network of partners to maximize the impact of the program. Program partners include Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historical Affairs, Two River Theatre, the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, Discover Jersey Arts, and New Jersey Network.

“The Arts Council is proud to sponsor New Jersey’s Poetry Out Loud program because it demonstrates how the arts can play a powerful role in education and in our lives,” remarked State Arts Council Chair Sharon Burton Turner. “Through the process of memorizing and performing each poem, students are challenged to think critically and creatively, and to build the self confidence so vital for today’s changing world.”

The state finals are the culmination of a competition that began in the fall and included more than 17,000 students from 82 high schools and one home school association. The seven state finalists successfully competed in classroom, school, and regional-level contests before qualifying to compete at Drumthwacket. Along with Mr. Abdul-Hamid, Joanna Latini, a junior from Villa Victoria Academy in Ewing, earned the title of State Runner-Up.

Following is a list of the seven student finalists:

Champion - Shamsuddin Abdul-Hamid, Arts High School, Newark

State Runner-Up - Joanna Latini, Villa Victoria Academy, Ewing
Jessica Leigh Anderson, Kinnelon High School, Kinnelon
Julia Gosin, Mainland Regional High School, Linwood
Melanie Harrison, Livingston High School, Livingston
Bianca Nichole Hughes, St. Mary of the Assumption High School, Elizabeth
Morgan Jerkins, Williamstown High School, Williamstown

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry – recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form and invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, rap, spoken word and theatre into the English class to help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

For more information about the program and to view clips from the State Finals please visit To hear a podcast about NJ Poetry Out Loud, produced by NJN's weekly arts show State of the Arts, click here.

March 22, 2010
Media Contact:
Allison Tratner


The New Jersey State Council on the Arts is a division of the NJ Department of State. It receives funding in direct appropriations from the State of New Jersey through a dedicated Hotel/Motel Occupancy fee and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 1966, its volunteer members and professional staff have worked to improve the quality of life in New Jersey by helping the arts to flourish. For more information about the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, please visit Further information regarding the arts in New Jersey is found on an interactive web site,, and available on a toll-free hotline 1-800- THE ARTS.