Wednesday, February 19, 2020

NC High School Students Compete in Statewide Poetry Out Loud Competition

Feb 19, 2020

North Carolina high school students from 25 counties across the state will take the stage on Saturday, Feb. 22, in Greensboro, to compete in the annual statewide Poetry Out Loud competition.

Thirty-five schools are sending students to compete in Poetry Out Loud, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and the North Carolina Arts Council. The event is free and open to the public.

The competition brings together students with an interest in poetry, spoken word, and theater, as well as students just discovering the power of recitation who learn about poetry — both classic and contemporary — through memorization, performance and competition.

“Poetry Out Loud gives kids the chance to practice creativity by using the dynamic aspects of poetry in high school classrooms,” Sharon Hill, the Arts in Education director for the N.C. Arts Council, said. “Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, increase reading comprehension scores, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.”

Since 2005 Poetry Out Loud has grown nationally to reach more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Students from N.C. schools vied to make it to the Feb. 22 state semi-finals and finals through classroom lessons and competitions and district competitions held last fall. The state winner will advance to the national Poetry Out Loud finals, in Washington, D.C., from April 27–29.

Students from public and private schools from the following counties will participate: Alamance, Buncombe, Catawba, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Dare, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Johnston, Lee, Mecklenburg, Moore, New Hanover, Pitt, Polk, Rockingham, Rutherford, Sampson, Stokes, Union, Wake and Wilkes.

For a list of students competing in the state semifinals, click here.

For a list of district champions, click here.

The program — at Triad Stage, 232 S. Elm Street, Greensboro — starts at 10 a.m. with a welcoming ceremony, followed by the first round of competition at 11 a.m. Three concurrent semifinals will be held throughout the theater, with finalists announced after lunch.

Finalists will advance to the final round of competition, which will begin at approximately 3:30 p.m. in Triad Stage’s Pyrle Theater.

North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green will recite several of her poems and each student will have his or her photo taken with Ms. Green.

Distinguished members of North Carolina’s literary and theater community will serve as judges: Sam Barbee, Howard Craft, Sage Chioma, Beth Copeland, Terri Kirby Erickson, Preston Lane, Metta-Sáma Melvin, Lenard Moore, Crystal Smith, Cassandra Williams, Matthew Wimberley and Carolyn York.

Emcees for the semi-final competitions are Michael Beadle, Lalenja Harrington and Ismael Khatibu. The emcee for the final competition is Dasan Ahanu.

Schools participating in the program take advantage of online access to supplemental curriculum materials from the NEA: an anthology of poetry from which students choose poems to memorize, a program guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance, video resources and promotional and media guides.

The winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national championship at George Washington University, in April. The national finals will be webcast live, and our state champion will compete with state winners from across the country for a $20,000 college scholarship.

The state winner's school will receive a $500 stipend to be used to buy poetry books. The runner-up at the state level will receive $100, and the school will receive $200 for poetry books.

Triad Stage coordinates Poetry Out Loud on behalf of the N.C. Arts Council.

For more information, contact N.C. Poetry Out Loud coordinator Dani Keil at or visit

About the North Carolina Arts Council
The North Carolina Arts Council builds on our state’s long-standing love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in annual direct economic activity. The Arts Council also sustains diverse arts expression and traditions while investing in innovative approaches to art-making. The North Carolina Arts Council has proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education.

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