The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Anna Deavere Smith, the award-winning playwright, actress, and MacArthur Fellowship Award winner, hosts the 2013 national finals of Poetry Out Loud. Guest judges for the National Finals are poets Patricia Smith and Eduardo Corral, BBC correspondent Jane O’Brien, and Tree Swenson, executive director of the Richard Hugo House in Seattle. Every year, 53 State Poetry Out Loud Champions descend on Washington, DC to vie for the title of National Champion. These young competitors advanced from a field of some 375,000 students who tested their skills in poetry recitation in more than 2,000 schools nationwide. The top finalists and their schools will receive $50,000 in awards.
The 53 champions will gather at the Poetry Out Loud semifinals on Monday, April 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC. Nine finalists will advance to the National Finals, also held at Lisner Auditorium, on Tuesday, April 30, from 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. For more details on the semifinals and finals schedules, go to this page.