Participants being sought for Poetry Out Loud competition

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From staff reports

The Mississippi Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation are seeking competitors for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest.

The program encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school competition, state competition and the National Finals. The state event is set for March 13 in Jackson. The nationals will be April 27-28 in Washington, D.C.

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Last year, students in about 30 Mississippi high schools participated in the program, and at least 100,000 students across the country are expected to participate.

“Learning great poetry by heart develops the mind and imagination,” Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said in a news release. “It isn’t just an arts program. By immersing themselves in powerful language and ideas, the students will develop their ability to speak well — especially in public. This is a skill they will use in the workplace and the community for the rest of their lives.”

The program requires about three weeks of class time. To participate, a school must register by Dec. 31. Schools will then receive a training DVD.

The Mississippi Arts Commission is a state agency that is funded by the Legislature, National Endowment for the Arts, The Wallace Foundation, Donna and Jim Barksdale, The Phil Hardin Foundation, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and other sources. MAC is a source for grants that help fund the arts in Mississippi.

To enrollTo enter the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, submit a registration form, available at, by Dec. 31. Interested teachers may contact Kim Whitt of the Mississippi Arts Commission at 601-359-6037 or