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'Poetry Out Loud Contest' for high school students

The competition for "Poetry Out Loud," the poetry recitation contest for high school students, sponsored by the Oregon Arts Commission in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, intensifies this week.

More than half of Oregon's 22 participating high schools have announced their winners.

Six competitions will take place on Tuesday, February 24 in Arlington, Gresham, Salem, Sherwood and Bandon; two more on Wednesday, February 25 in Medford and Gresham; with the final two, both in Portland, anticipated to take place the week of March 3. The statewide competition takes place Saturday, March 14 at Salem's Grand Theater, 1900 High St. NE.

At stake is more than $50,000 in scholarships at the state and national levels, including over $20,000 for the national winner. The winner of the statewide contest wins a $200 scholarship, $500 for the school library to purchase poetry books, and an all-expense paid trip for two to Washington, DC to represent Oregon at the April 26 - 28 national contest. April is National Poetry Month.

Oregon's 2008 State Champion, Sophia Soberon from Brookings-Harbor High School, took second place in the 2008 national competition. She won $10,200 ($200, state; $10,000 national) in scholarships for her education at Southern Oregon University, while her school received $1,000 ($500 each, state and national) to purchase poetry books for its library. She will be one of the judges at this year's statewide competition.

With recent additions of Centennial High School (Gresham) and Metropolitan Learning Center (Portland), 22 Oregon high schools in 13 communities are competing this year in Poetry Out Loud.

With the Oregon School for the Deaf being among the competitors, Oregon enjoys the distinction of being the first state in the nation to host a deaf student at the state contest.

Cascade Christian School (Medford) and Hood River Valley High School have held their contests but not yet announced their winners.

South Medford High School will host its contest, Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 2:35 p.m. - 4 p.m. The school is located at 815 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford. The Coordinator is Clancy Rone.

The state Poetry Out Loud Contest takes place:

Sat Mar 14, 9 AM - 3 PM

Grand Theater

1900 High St. NE, Salem

Coordinator: Deb Vaughn

503-986-0085, deborah.vaughn@state.or.us

Poetry Out Loud, now in its fourth year in Oregon, involves the memorization and recitation of classic poetry and culminates in a statewide competition. Nationwide, more than 200,000 students are expected to participate.

Oregon's 2009 competition will be judged by:

Lawson Inada, Oregon poet laureate;

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;

Scott Wildenstein, poet and sign interpreter, Oregon Shakespeare Festival;

Howie Seago, a noted deaf actor.

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry - recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement, and brings aspects of slam poetry, spoken word and theater into the English class.

"Learning great poetry by heart develops the mind and imagination," observes Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Poetry Out Loud isn't just an arts program. By immersing themselves in powerful language and ideas, students develop their ability to speak well, especially in public. This is a skill they will use in the workplace and the community for the rest of their lives."

The Oregon Arts Commission, the NEA and the Poetry Foundation partner to sponsor Poetry Out Loud. The Arts Commission has developed an Oregon Curriculum Guide that can be used to connect Poetry Out Loud classroom activities to Oregon's Content and Performance Standards in Language Arts and the Arts/Drama.

For further information on Poetry Out Loud, contact the Oregon Arts Commission at 503-986-0082, or visit the national website at www.poetryoutloud.org