Sadie Burt, 16, of South Medford High School and Tori Francis, 16, of Cascade Christian School were state-level finalists in the Poetry Out Loud competition held March 14 at the Grand Theater in Salem.

Sadie Burt, 16, of South Medford High School and Tori Francis, 16, of Cascade Christian School were state-level finalists in the Poetry Out Loud competition held March 14 at the Grand Theater in Salem.

Oregon had nearly 4,000 students at 22 high schools participate in Poetry Out Loud this year. All the state-level contestants prepared three poems from a 600-poem anthology provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Each performed one poem, with 13 advancing to the second round to perform a second poem and eight finalists performing a third.

The contestants were judged by Oregon Poet Laureate Lawson Inada; Sophia Soberon, 2008 national Poetry Out Loud runner-up and Oregon state champion; Scott Poole, poet-in-residence, Live Wire!; Mindi L. Logan, theater professor, University of Portland; and Jeff Wildenstein, poet and sign interpreter, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The criteria included physical presence, accuracy, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty and overall performance.