High school competition helps keep poetry alive
Established in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts, the "Poetry Out Loud" competition encourages high school students to memorize and recite some of the world's greatest poems in a performance setting.
This year, 200,000 high school students from across the country " more than 1,600 from Oklahoma " participated.
Ann Thompson, executive director of the Oklahoma Humanities Council " a Poetry Out Loud co-sponsor with the Oklahoma Arts Council " finds those numbers encouraging. This program "helps teachers instill a love of poetry and an understanding of America's literary heritage in their students," said Thompson.
This year's winner was Jessica Sims, a Putnam City West senior who plans to study musical theater at Oklahoma City University.
"This competition helped me appreciate poetry more than I did," said Sims. "I learned poetry can be fun."
As the state winner, Sims received $200, and her high school was awarded $500 toward the purchase of poetry books. Sims and her chaperone also will be sent on an all-expenses paid trip to the Poetry Out Loud Nationals in Washington, D.C., this April.
Oklahoma's current Poet Laureate Fran Ringold helped judge the competition.
"I thought (Sims), particularly in her interpretation and performance of the poem she selected for the third-round performance, showed an outstanding ability to get inside the poem," Ringold said. "Jim Chastain