September 16, 2010

Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest

State Arts Council Announces Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest
Students Compete for the Chance to Win College Scholarships
and Stipends for Books

http://njsca.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=NdS8gAAIAAH-----AAQ5UQ
2009 NJPOL State Finalists (L-R) Melanie Harrison, Bianca Nichole Hughes, Julia Gosin, State Champion Shamsuddin Abdul-Hamid, Morgan Jerkins, State Runner-Up Joanna Latini and Jessica Leigh Anderson. Photo: Frank Wojciechowski

(Trenton, NJ) All New Jersey public, charter, private and parochial high schools, and home school associations are invited to participate in New Jersey Poetry Out Loud (NJPOL), a national poetry recitation program, for a new take on classic and contemporary poetry, and a chance to represent the state in a national competition.

For the sixth year in a row Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, and implemented by state arts council's across the country. Last year more than 300,000 teens participated in Poetry Out Loud nation-wide and in New Jersey alone more than 17,000 students from 82 high schools and one home school association took part. The program encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, which helps them master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about our literary heritage.

"Performing the works of revered poets was an unparalleled honor that mobilized me to begin writing from my own perspective," said last year's NJ POL State Champion Shamsuddin Abdul-Hamid of Newark. "POL built up my confidence and allowed me to combine my love of spoken word and theatre. Most importantly, POL gave me a voice and allowed me to be heard. It was truly the best moment of my life."

All registered schools follow the same pyramid competition structure, which begins at the classroom level. Winners advance to the school-wide competition, then to the regional competition and on to the state-wide competition which will take place in March, 2011. The state champion and runner-up will receive cash prizes and their school libraries will receive stipends for the purchase of poetry books. The state champion will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC 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. All monetary prizes are provided by the NEA.

"The Council is proud to support Poetry Out Loud because it challenges students of all levels to discover their own unique voices and to express themselves in a meaningful way," said Arts Council chair Sharon Burton Turner. "Year after year the passion, commitment and talent the students bring to the poems is remarkable. We know the skills they're honing through this program will serve them throughout their lives."

Teachers are invited to find out more about NJPOL and to register to participate at jerseyarts.com/pol by November 18, 2010. Once registered, teachers are provided with free multimedia curriculum materials - a poetry anthology, audio guide, teachers' guide, posters and comprehensive web site, poetryoutloud.org - all aligned to national standards to augment their regular poetry curriculum. Additionally a variety of programs are available that supplement NJPOL including free teacher workshops and the opportunity to engage a master poet and performing artist through a residency program to help teach students the depth, breadth and artistry of poetry recitation. All schools interested in a residency must register for NJPOL first. A limited number of residency grants are available. The deadline to apply for a NJPOL residency grant is November 3, 2010.

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, Community Theatre at Mayo Center for the Performing Arts, Discover Jersey Arts, and New Jersey Network.

To view performances from last year's NJPOL state finals, click here.

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 www.njartscouncil.org. Further information regarding the arts in New Jersey is found on an interactive website, www.jerseyarts.com, and available on a toll-free hotline 1-800- THE ARTS.