(Boston) – Twenty-three students from the 71 semi-finalists that competed last weekend have advanced to the State Finals of the national Poetry Out Loud (POL) spoken word competition, to be held this Sunday, March 10. The competition will begin at 9:30am at the Old South Meeting House (301 Washington Street, Boston), site of the historic meeting of colonists that led to the Boston Tea Party and a continued haven of free speech today. The competition is free and open to the public.
Sunday’s winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to compete in the National Finals April 28-30. The Huntington facilitates the Massachusetts competition with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Competing students include:
- Sabrina Accime, Meridian Academy
- Michelle Beaulieu, Masconomet Regional High School
- Molly Brennan, Sturgis Charter Public School East
- Lily Bunyea, Barnstable High School
- Christopher Carchedi, Rockland High School
- Devon Flanagan, Groton-Dunstable Regional High School
- Raphe Gilliam, Amherst Regional High School
- Allie Hardy, Burlington High School
- Erin Hebert, Holyoke High School
- Kathryn Holaday, Newburyport High School
- Stephanie Igharosa, Randolph High School
- Anagha Indic, Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School
- Lydia King, Salem Academy Charter School
- Ryan Kramer, Norwell High School
- Mikayla Mitchell, Westfield High School
- Vanessa Morales, Malden High School
- Micayla Rivin, Needham High School
- Ben Rutan, Algonquin Regional High School
- Latanya Simpson, Codman Academy Charter Public School
- Samantha Salem, Dracut Senior High School,
- Courtney Stewart, Springfield Central High School
- Jackie Thomsen, Swampscott High School
- Justin von Bosau, Prospect Hill Academy Charter School
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 eight 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 81 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 Finals will be hosted by playwright, filmmaker, and performing artist Mwalim, who will also perform, along with poet Jamele Adams. Stephen Young, Program Director at The Poetry Foundation, will speak. The Finals will be judged by Charles Coe, poet and program officer (CIP) at the MCC; Cindy Dickinson, Director of Interpretation and Programming at the Emily Dickinson Museum; Joie LeMaitre, Huntington Trustee and Chair of the Education Committee; Emma Sellers, Manager of Business Conduct & Ethics at Staples, Inc.; and Wendell Taylor, Partner at WilmerHale and Huntington Overseer. Huntington Overseer Katherine Jones will serve as Prompter.
“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
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.
About the Huntington Theatre Company
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.
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.