Congratulations to 2013 Vermont Poetry Out Loud Champion Christian DeKett of St. Johnsbury Academy! The junior nabbed the top spot in the State Competition at the Barre Opera House on March 13, 2013, followed by junior Maia Gilmour of Brattleboro Union High School as the runner-up.
A total of 37 Vermont high school students performed a total of 97 poetry recitations over the course of the day-long Poetry Out Loud competition. Noted poet Major Jackson and Vermont Secretary of Education Armando Vilaseca also spoke to the crowd while people around the country followed along on the Livestream and Twitter feed. And the journey isn't over! Christian will head to Washington, D.C., in April to compete in the National Poetry Out Loud Competition (and he has $200 in prize money in his pocket).
The Vermont Arts Council staff gives our heartfelt thanks to all of the students, teachers, judges, Barre Opera House staff, volunteers, and countless others who made this event possible.
April 29-30, 2013 - National Competition Event in Washington, DC
Poetry Out Loud is a national competition that encourages high school students to memorize and perform great poems.
The program builds on the rising interest in poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the popularity of rap music. Students learn about great poetry while mastering public speaking skills and building self-confidence.
Our 2013 State Competition was held on Wednesday, March 13 at the Barre Opera House in downtown Barre, Vermont. Christian Dekett, a junior at St. Johnsbury Academy, nabbed the top spot. He will represent Vermont at the National Competition on April 29-30, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is a national competition for high school students. It builds on the recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as demonstrated by the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of rap music among our youth.
Participation begins at the classroom level around the country. Teachers organize contests involving one class or a whole school with the winners advancing to the state finals, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, DC. Contestants can choose poems from an extensive anthology of classical and contemporary poetry.
The program, which began in 2005, is presented in Vermont by the Arts Council in partnership with the Vermont Department of Education, and the Vermont Humanities Council.
POETRY OUT LOUD IS A GREAT WAY TO TEACH POETRY!
Teachers from more than 50 Vermont high schools have taken part over the past seven years. Here's what makes the program so popular:
- it fits well into literature curriculum
- it creates an entry point for students to appreciate poetry
- it strengthens community in the classroom
- it reaches students that might not otherwise take to poetry or recitation
- it offers more than $100,000 in prizes to students and schools at the state and national level.
Participating teachers receive free multimedia curriculum materials – a poetry anthology, audio guide, teachers’ guide, posters, and the comprehensive Poetry Out Loud website, all aligned to national standards – allowing them to augment their regular poetry curriculum with poetry recitation and a classroom-level competition.
The Teacher’s Guide contains a scoring rubric and optional creative writing lesson plan. As the sponsoring Vermont Arts Agency, the Council also offers workshops for teachers to provide tips on bringing the program into their classrooms, and sponsors classroom visits by teaching artists.
Teachers, students, and poetry lovers everywhere can use the Poetry Out Loud website and its accompanying educational materials to organize their own recitation contests, but the official contest is limited to the programs run by each state's Arts Agency. The Poetry Out Loud website has the following areas you may find helpful:
2012: Claude Mumbere, Burlington High School
2011: Claude Mumbere, Burlington High School
2010: John Marshall, The Sharon Academy
2009: Audrey Kiely, People's Academy of Morrisville
2008: Caleb Smith-Hastings, Middlebury Union High School
2007: Henry Kiely, People's Academy of Morrisville
2006: Anna Svagzdys, Montpelier High School
What does it take to become involved in Poetry Out Loud?
2013 marks the eighth year of the Poetry Out Loud program. During the first year, Poetry Out Loud was offered in Washington county as a pilot program. Since then, the program has been available to all schools throughout the state. Poetry Out Loud is administered by the Vermont Arts Council. The Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Vermont Arts Council will provide all the necessary materials for sponsoring a Poetry Out Loud contest in your school, including a fully subsidized artist visit!
What does Poetry Out Loud look like in a school?
An individual teacher, a group of teachers, the drama department or club, or an entire school decides to offer this opportunity to students. The way that teachers implement the program is up to them. Possibilities include:
A unit on poetry in English or drama classes (based on the poems in the Poetry Out Loud anthology), culminating in recitations by each student in front of the class, possibly using lesson plans that will be provided
The offering of extra credit to students who participate
An after-school opportunity for students who volunteer to participate
A school-wide celebration of poetry
What must result from whatever plan you follow, however, is that one winner from your school selected through a legitimately judged competition will participate at the state contest in March. Assistance is available for determining judging criteria.
Exactly what must the students who enter this program do?
Students should choose a poem to memorize and present. There are hundreds of poems from which to choose on the Poetry Out Loud Web site; approximately 100 of these poems are also available in a paper anthology that will be provided upon request to teachers who participate in the program. (There is a limited number of printed anthologies so request your copy early. They will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis. We encourage use of the online resource.)
It is strongly recommended that students who compete beyond the classroom level select poems of various style, time period, and voice. Diversity in the selections will offer a richer and more complete performance. At the state and national competitions, each student must recite at least one poem written before the 20th century. At least one of the three poems must also be 25 lines or shorter. Each judge should have a complete list of every competitor's selections in advance so they may familiarize themselves with the poems and develop a sense of diversity and range.
Each student must recite the poem without the use of props, costumes, amplification, or music. Gestures and some amount of movement may be appropriate and encouraged, depending on the poem. Style and interpretation are most definitely encouraged!
Each school must select one winner who will represent it at the state contest. It may be that classrooms select winners who then compete in a school-wide competition, or all participating classrooms may compete against one another; this process will be determined by the individual school, but guidance is available.
Can students choose poetry outside of the poems in the anthology?
No. The website includes an online anthology of more than 400 poems that will continue to expand. The students must choose from that selection, or from the hardcopy Poetry Out Loud Anthology distributed to schools participating in the official contests.
Is there a creative writing element to Poetry Out Loud?
The central objective of the program is to familiarize students with the best of their literary heritage, while teaching them important public speaking skills. Poetry Out Loud is not intended to replace classroom activities like creative writing; in fact, the two naturally complement each other. For that reason, the POL Web site has a number of optional writing activities and lesson plans for teachers.
What happens after the school chooses a winner?
Each school’s winning student will attend the state-level contest to be held on March 13th, 2013.
The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC with a chaperone to compete for the national championship.
The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. A runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library.
A total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded at the National Finals for the winners, including a $20,000 college scholarship for the final national winner.
What are the benefits and aids for participating teachers?
Program guide to help teach recitation and performance
Extensive online poetry anthology and a comprehensive web site
Audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers reciting the poems
Drama and poetry guest artists available to conduct workshops to help your students
Standards information contained on the Web site
Far-reaching benefits for students—including enhanced public speaking skills—and for teachers, including an enriched literary and drama curriculum.