Nine young poets

Nine students compete this Thursday at Phoenix Center for the Arts to become the 2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud champion. The event is free and open to the public.

Nine young poets will compete Thursday evening in this year’s Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals — taking place at 7pm at Phoenix Center for the Arts. The event features guest emcee Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch — as well as guest reader, poet and author Charles Jenson.

Arizona Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, facilitated in partnership with the Young Writers Program at Arizona State University and The Poetry Center at the University of Arizona.

More than 13,000 Arizona high school students competed in this year’s Poetry Out Loud program at the classroom and school level — and 44 school-level finalists competed in three regional competitions that led to the selection of the nine finalists you’ll be able to watch in action come Thursday night.

State finalists from Central Arizona include John DiMino of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Travis Marino of Freedom Christian Academy in Queen Creek and India Parsons of Westview High School in Avondale.

State finalists from Northern Arizona include Rebecca Andersen of Kingman High School in Kingman, Sophia Licher from Sedona Red Rock High School in Sedona and Adriana Hurtado of Tri-City College Preparatory High School in Prescott.

State finalists from Southern Arizona include Mark Anthony Niadas of St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson, Cassandra Valadez of Sunnyside High School in Tucson and Joshua Furtado of Tucson High Magnet School in Tucson.

The Poetry Out Loud program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. “The students work hard to get to the finals,” reflects Robert C. Booker, executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

“Watching such a diverse group of exceptional young people from around the state stand tall, recite, and display their understanding and love of poetry is truly remarkable and inspirational,” adds Booker. “These young people learn skills through this competition that will serve them for a lifetime.”

Poetry Out Loud is a national program that seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry—recitation and performance — inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word and theater into English classes.

The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. The Arizona state winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to compete for the national championship in Washington, D.C.

The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. One runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The Poetry Out Loud program will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships (including a $20,000 scholarship for the national champion) and school stipends at the national finals.

Watch for a future post previewing Thursday’s state finals — complete with photos and fun facts about each of this year’s state finalists, plus the scoop on what they’ll be reciting. I’ll also be inviting this year’s state champion to write a guest post featuring his or her experiences with the Poetry Out Loud program.

— Lynn

Note: Learn more about Poetry Out Loud at www.poetryoutloud.org or www.azarts.gov/pol.

Coming up: Art meets incarceration, Exploring students art exhibits

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