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High school students in Rhode Island compete in national poetry recitation contest - similar to national Spelling Bee

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and VSA arts of Rhode Island announce the state finals for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. On Saturday, February 27, 2010, students from fifteen local high schools will participate in the Poetry Out Loud state finals at Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick. The guest speaker will be poet and educator Rick Benjamin.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure, similar to the national Spelling Bee. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. More than 150,000 students across the country are expected to take part in Poetry Out Loud this year.

At the Rhode Island State Final, contestants will recite works they have selected from an anthology of more than 500 classic and contemporary poems. Students participating in the Poetry Out Loud program have benefited from educational materials created by the Arts Endowment and the Poetry Foundation. These materials include a standards-based teacher’s guide, a comprehensive website, and a CD featuring poetry recitations by well-known actors and writers such as Anthony Hopkins, Alyssa Milano, N. Scott Momaday, and Rita Dove.

“The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is excited about Poetry Out Loud as one of the ways that we provide access to the arts for our high school age citizens,” says Sherilyn Brown, Director of the State Arts Council’s Education Program. “Each year students impress us with their heartfelt and moving interpretations of a wide variety of poems.”

"We want students to know that poetry belongs to everyone," says Jeannine Chartier, Director of VSA arts of RI. "Poetry out Loud is an inclusive program that welcomes all kids - with and without disabilities - from throughout our state to communicate and share with all Rhode Islanders the power of poetry. Through the school project and public performances we hope to shine a light on our successful students and their talents."

Poetry Out Loud Prizes

The third place winner of the Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island finals will receive $200, and the winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second place finalist will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The state champion of the Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island final will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC, on April 25-27, 2010. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Rhode Island Poetry Out Loud finals at Rhode Island

The Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island finals will take place on Saturday, February 28 at 10:00 a.m. in Bishop Hendricken High School’s theater. The master of ceremonies will be Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. The keynote speaker will be Lisa Starr, Poet Laureate of Rhode Island. The event is free and open to the public. For more information on the state finals, contact VSA arts of RI at 725-0247 or visit

Participating schools this year include: Bishop Hendricken High School, Warwick Block Island School, Block Island Burrillville High School, Harrisville Central Falls High School, Central Falls Central High School, Providence Classical High School, Providence Coventry High School, Coventry Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School, West Greenwich Hope Arts High School, Providence Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Pawtucket Johnston High School, Johnston North Smithfield High School, North Smithfield Portsmouth Abbey School, Portsmouth Shea High School, Pawtucket West Warwick High School, West Warwick

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The NEA is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts – both new and established – bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit

About Rhode Island State Council on the Arts:

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders.

About VSA arts of Rhode Island

VSA arts of Rhode Island is a non-profit arts and education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of people with disabilities through active participation in the arts. Since 1986 VSA arts of RI has provided high quality visual, literary and performing arts programs through which children and adults with disabilities of all ethnic, racial and economic levels enter the mainstream of the cultural community. VSA arts of RI is the only agency in RI which exists solely for the purpose of providing opportunities in the arts by, with and for individuals with disabilities and serves over 40,000 Rhode Islanders each year.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
  • Online:
  • Release date: 02-15-2010

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