Poetry Out Loud logo

“Poetry Out Loud” State Finals Set For March 7

Posted on:

< < Back to

The Ohio Arts Council will host the 10th annual Poetry Out Loud State Finals on Saturday, March 7, at the Lincoln Theatre, 769 E. Long Street, Columbus.

In 2006, Jackson Hille of Columbus won the very first Poetry Out Loud national championship. 2014 Ohio state champion Lake Wilburn of Centennial High School, Columbus, finished second at the National Finals last April, winning $10,000. The state finals are free and open to the public.

The day-long event, held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., brings together school champions from many of the 59 registered high schools throughout the state to compete for the chance to represent Ohio at the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest in Washington, D.C., April 27-29. Parents, teachers, poetry lovers, and other supporters will be in attendance.

The winner at the state level receives $300 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books for its library. The runner-up receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library. Additionally, a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be awarded to the winners at the National Finals.

The contest starts in the classroom, where more than 9,000 Ohio students participated this year. Students memorize a poem and recite it before a panel of judges who score them in the following areas: voice and articulation, physical presence, dramatic appropriateness, level of complexity, evidence of understanding, accuracy, and overall performance. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Poet and Oberlin College professor Kazim Ali will share his original poems between rounds in the state competition. His volumes of poetry include Sky Ward, The Far Mosque, The Fortieth Day, and the poetic memoir Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities. Sky Ward is the winner of the 2014 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry.

Former State Senator Eric H. Kearney of Cincinnati will serve as emcee for the final round of the state competition which is anticipated to begin around 1:30 p.m. Senator Kearney sponsored Senate Bill 84, establishing the position of Ohio Poet Laureate, which was passed by the 130th Ohio General Assembly and signed into law earlier this year by Governor John R. Kasich.

“As former U.S. Poet Laureate and Ohio native Rita Dove has said, ‘If we’re going to solve the problems of the world, we have to learn how to talk to one another,'” Kearney said. “‘Poetry is the language at its essence. It is the bones and skeleton of language. It teaches you, if nothing else, how to choose your words.'”

Poetry Out Loud is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Ohio Arts Council and state arts agencies nationwide. The Ohio Poetry Out Loud finals are presented in partnership with Thurber House, the Ohioana Library, the Ohio Center for the Book in Cleveland, and Tuesday Musical Association.

Visit for more information on this national program and the Ohio Arts Council website for more information on the Ohio program.