November 1, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 28

Poetry Out Loud kicks off its eighth year in Washington

On March 10, 2012, a young high school student stepped into the soft spotlight on the Rialto Theater stage in Tacoma, Wash., and said “Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and/coarse and strong and cunning.” The words belonged to Carl Sandburg, but they were spoken by Langston Ward, a Mead High School student representing Eastern Washington in the Poetry Out Loud state finals.

Ward was one of more than 20,000 students from 68 Washington high schools to participate in Poetry Out Loud last year. The national program – organized by Eastern Washington University’s Get Lit! Programs and the Arts Commission of Washington state and sponsored by the NEA and The Poetry Foundation – strives to inspire students’ creativity by incorporating slam poetry, spoken word and theatre into their English classes.

Participating schools receive a free curriculum from the Poetry Out Loud organization that can be completed in anywhere from three weeks to a few months. After completing the course, students advance from classroom-level and schoolwide recitation competitions to the regional competition, hosted in Spokane by EWU’s Get Lit! Programs. Then it is on to the state and national finals.

Ward’s incredible performance at the state competition earned him $200 in scholarships, a $500 stipend for poetry books for his school and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national competition in Washington D.C., where he placed as a finalist and received an additional $1,000 in scholarships and a $500 stipend.

Spokane high schools are already gearing up for another amazing run in 2013. Included on the list of participating schools are East Valley, The Oaks Academy, Okanogan and Mead. The deadline for registration is Thursday, Nov. 15, and there will be a workshop for teachers held Thursday, Nov. 8.

Interested teachers should contact Get Lit! Programs at 359-6447 or online at poetryoutloud509@gmail.com. More information can be found at www.arts.wa.gov and poetryoutloud.org.

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