Poetry Out Loud Semifinal Competition

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Seventy-nine students from across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will compete at four regional semi-final competitions as part of the eighth annual Poetry Out Loud March 2 and 3. Competitions will be held in Boston, Framingham, Springfield, and on Cape Cod. Each participating student recently won his or her individual school’s competition in order to advance. The winners will advance to the State Finals on Sunday, March 10 at Boston’s Old South Meeting House. All upcoming competitions are free and open to the public.

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national recitation competition that celebrates the power of the spoken word and a mastery of public speaking skills while cultivating self-confidence and an appreciation of students’ literary heritage as they take poetry from the page to the stage. Since its inception seven years ago, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate both classic and contemporary poetry.

Nearly 20,000 students from 82 Huntington-supported high schools across the Commonwealth competed in recent months in classroom and school-wide competitions. A complete list can be found at the end of this release. 

The Massachusetts POL winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC this coming spring to compete in the national finals. The Huntington facilitates the Massachusetts competition with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Judges and prompters include Jamele Adams (poet), Carole Alkins (Huntington Trustee), Michael Brown (Huntington Trustee), Charles Coe (poet, Massachusetts Cultural Council program officer [CIP]), Cynthia Dickinson (Director of Interpretation and Programming, Emily Dickinson Museum), Erika Koss (teacher, former NEA employee who helped found POL), Lynne Johnson (Executive Director, Hudson Area Arts Alliance), Joie LeMaitre (Huntington Trustee, Education Committee chair), Noel McCoy (Huntington Overseer), Wendall Taylor (Huntington Overseer), and Amanda Torres(poet).

“The study of poetry may be especially important for kids growing up in the age of tweets,” observed The Boston Globe. “Close reading, after all, is essentially an act of listening; to learn a poem well enough to speak it aloud with confidence requires careful attention to someone else’s words, someone else’s experience. It means tuning out the clamor of voices competing for your attention – including your own – until you’ve fully heard what another person is saying.”


“There’s something about a one-, two-, three-minute poem,” says the Huntington’s director of education and community programs. “The young people competing bring such understanding of universal themes like love, loss, and fear.’ You don’t see their age. They get up there and you don’t see a high school student, you just see a person.’’


About Poetry Out Loud: poetryoutloud.org

Recitation and performance are major new trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music. Poetry Out Loud builds on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theatre into the English class. The NEA and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with state arts agencies to support the expansion of Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Huntington sponsor the Massachusetts contest; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation sponsor the competition on the national level.


Learn more about Poetry Out Loud at huntingtontheatre.org/pol.


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About the Huntington Theatre Company: huntingtontheatre.org

Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston’s leading theatre company. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University.For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org. 

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council: massculturalcouncil.org

The Massachusetts Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. The MCC is committed to building a central place for arts and culture in the everyday lives of communities across the Commonwealth. The Council pursues this mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.


Semi-Final Competition Information:

Boston: Sat., March 2, 9:30am

Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

527 Tremont Street, Boston


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