Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Teens Take Their Poetry Out Loud

(assembled) by Susan*

As anyone who's ever participated in a reading might know, poetry is both a written and a spoken tradition. Poetry takes on a different dimension when performed rather than read.

Across the nation, teens experience poetry as an oral art form in Poetry Out Loud, and right now, the Wyoming Arts Council is inviting 9th-12th teachers and students to take part. There's still time to get involved -- the application deadline is December 22.

Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation and memorization contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The program encourages teens to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. Students can work on mastering comprehension, public speaking, acting, performance, drama and English skills while building self-confidence and internalizing our rich literary heritage. (You can see performances on the POL YouTube Channel.)

Learn more and register. But if you're not convinced yet, keep reading...

Lauren Haiar, 2017 Wyoming Poetry Out Loud winner, spoke of her experience competing in the national round in Washington D.C.:

"I’ve enjoyed poetry my entire life, and so I immediately loved the idea of Poetry Out Loud ... I knew that [national competition] was an amazing opportunity and would be a great experience, but little did I know how much it would shape my life afterwards. My experiences there have played a part in many of the decisions that I’m making today, in and out of the classroom ... Coming from a small school where not many people share my love of literature, to be in a group setting with peers of the same interests was absolutely thrilling. I felt like I became a part of a family of like-minded people. However, like-minded as we may me, the amount of diversity that I was exposed to from interacting with high school students from all over America and our territories was so eye-opening. Through the influence of poetry and the power that our words have, we learned together, and learned from each other."

Mason Neiman, educator
"In the rural Midwest, where arts opportunities for students are few and far between, Poetry Out Loud allows for my often unrepresented students to shine ... excitement in our community has grown steadily, especially since we made it to nationals last year. Poetry is steadily emerging from the shadows here in Sundance, as the town show becomes more of an event every year. Last year, we were privileged to compete at Nationals in Washington D.C. ... to see my young poet, from a town of a thousand in “flyover country”, stand alongside and cultivate lasting friendships with other young lovers of poetry from across the country, made this teacher smile wide. The opportunity for my students to identify with the triumphs and trials common to us all through the art of the spoken word and other poets has time and again transformed wallflowers into performers and bubbly extroverts into thoughtful mystics ... I wouldn't trade POL for anything and will keep my students involved so long as the program exists."
Here at Writing Wyoming, we're way into anything that encourages young people to appreciate poetry and literature. Appreciation of words is often the first step to writing.

Teachers and home school groups can learn full program details and register on the Wyoming Arts Council site. Registered schools and groups will receive a free multi-media toolkit that includes a teacher’s guide complete with lesson plans, guidance on classroom contests, evaluation criteria, posters, and a customizable contest announcement poster.

Registration deadline for this year's Poetry Out Loud is December 22. Participating teachers and homeschoolers use the POL  toolkit to teach poetry performance and run classroom competitions. Following a pyramid structure, classroom winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition in March, with the state winner awarded an all-expense-paid trip to the national competition in Washington, D.C., April 23-25.

In addition to the wonderful learning experience this program offers, students have the opportunity to win cash prizes and money for their school library to purchase poetry books.

If a school is interested in participating in Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud competition, needs further information, or needs a packet of printed program materials, contact Tara Pappas at tara.pappas@wyo.gov, 307-777-7109.

So get involved and encourage a teen's love of poetry. Good luck to our Wyoming competitors!

*Most of this info came straight from the Wyoming Arts Council, so I can't claim to have written this, other than an editorial comment interspersed here and there.

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