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ArtsPath to Host Regional Poetry Out Loud Contest

On Tuesday, February 23, 2010, ArtsPath will present a regional Poetry Out Loud recitation contest, showcasing high school students who were winners of their respective school contests over the past few weeks. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. in Gorell Recital Hall, located on the second floor of IUP’s John Sutton Hall.

With the 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 is building on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English classes of high school students across the country.

The National Endowment for the Arts 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. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

After successful pilot programs in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, the second phase of Poetry Out Loud was launched in high schools across America in the spring of 2006 with tens of thousands of students participating. Last year, over 300,000 students competed, with William Farley from Virginia being named National Champion on April 28, 2009.

Governor Rendell and Stoltz

Pennsylvania’s 2009 winner and representative for the national contest was Molly Stoltz (pictured here with Gov. Rendell), a junior at DuBois Area High School in Clearfield County and the regional champion for ArtsPath. Poetry Out Loud has continued to grow during the 2009–2010 school year. Pennsylvania alone went from 7,000 participating students to over 9,000. This process will culminate in the 2010 National Finals in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2010.

The 2010 regional contest for ArtsPath features five outstanding students. They are Tyler Baum from Homer Center Area High School, Debbie Brenner from Marion Center High School, Tove Johnson from Indiana Area High School, Ryan Rebel from the Kiski School, and, returning for one more year, Molly Stoltz from DuBois Area High School. Each will recite three poems from memory, selected from a Poetry Out Loud anthology. The student’s choices this year include “The Old Swimmin’ Hole” by James Whitcomb Riley, “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Ralegh, “Hate Poem” by Julie Sheehan, and “Agoraphobia” by Linda Pastan, to name a few.

An outstanding and diverse group of individuals have agreed to be judges for this year’s contest and include Leah Chambers, adjunct IUP faculty member in English at IUP’s Punxsutawney campus; Matthew Ferrence, adjunct IUP faculty member in English in Indiana; Kate Geiger, director of the Indiana Free Library; Lynn Shelly, IUP assistant professor of English and director of the Writing Center at the Punxsutawney campus; and Rebecca Slak, executive director for the Indiana Arts Council. Serving as the prompter will be Andrew Horner, a senior English and Philosophy major at IUP.

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