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State Arts Council Announces Poetry Out Loud Champion

Portsmouth Abbey Student Wins State Arts Council's 'Poetry Out Loud' Rhode Island State Final

Winner Goes On To National Competition in DC in April

Portsmouth Abbey School student Zoe Butler is this year's Rhode Island winner of the Poetry Out Loud state championship, held Sunday, March 15 at the RISD Museum's Chace Center and sponsored locally by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and VSA arts Rhode Island. As Rhode Island state winner, Butler will go on to compete at the national finals in Washington, DC in April.

Poetry Out Loud is a program sponsored nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and The Poetry Foundation in Chicago. Organized along the lines of the national spelling bee, Poetry Out Loud promotes competitions at the high school level throughout the country, with local winners going on to state finals, and from there to the national championship competition.

Over 1,800 students participated in the program this year and 12 schools sent contestants to the Rhode Island finals this year. The following schools participated in the state finals: Block Island School on Block Island; Barrington Christian Academy in Barrington; Central Falls High School in Central Falls; Chariho Regional High School in Wood River Junction; Johnston High School in Johnston; Classical High School, Central High School, Moses Brown School and Paul Cuffee School in Providence; North Kingstown High School in North Kingstown; Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick; and Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth.

In addition to Zoe Butler, the following students received awards at Sunday afternoon's competition: the second place finalist is Yesenia Rego from Barrington Christian Academy in Barrington. Placing third was Moira Flath from North Kingstown High School, and Honorable Mention went to Paloma Goico from the Paul Cuffee School in Providence.

Butler, a junior at Portsmouth Abbey School, was excited to be representing the Ocean State. She said, "Our state was founded on the promise of radical freedom and for me, poetry holds that same promise. I am honored to represent Rhode Island in the National Poetry Out Loud Competition because poetry is the culmination of freedom of the intellect and freedom of the arts."

First place winner Zoe Butler will receive a $200 prize check and an all-expense-paid trip to compete at the National Finals on April 28-29, 2015, at the Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University in Washington, DC.. Portsmouth Abbey School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second prize winner, Yesenia Rego from Barrington Christian Academy, will receive a $100 prize check, and her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

Rhode Island State Poet Rick Benjamin was this year's Guest Poet. Judges this year included Ray Davey, Providence's Poet Laureate and artist-in-residence at Slater Junior High School in Pawtucket; Diane Postoian, a writer, performer and director; and Magdalena Picot, a Puerto Rican poet raised in the poetic tradition of her father, the "trovador" Pedro Picot..

About the 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. For more information on RISCA and its programs, please visit .

About VSA arts Rhode Island

VSA arts Rhode Island is a statewide, nonprofit arts and education organization dedicated to providing opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to actively participate in the arts. VSA arts Rhode Island creates high quality programs in the literary, performing, and visual arts for inclusive audiences throughout the state. Through its collaborations with partners from the arts, cultural, disability, and educational communities, VSA arts Rhode Island increases public awareness of the creative talents of people with disabilities, integrating their achievements into Rhode Island's mainstream community to provide cultural experiences for all.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts 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

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  • Department or agency: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
  • Online:
  • Release date: 03-19-2015

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