Poetry Out Loud
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The 2012 Poetry Out Loud Maine State Champion

The Maine Arts Commission wishes to congratulate Tyler O’Brien of Merriconeag Waldorf High School as the 2012 State Poetry Out Loud Champion and Kiana Sawyer, from Portland High School, as the State Runner-up. Both students will receive cash awards and their schools will receive prize money to purchase poetry books for their libraries.


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State Champion Tyler O’Brien and Runner-upKiana Sawyer with MPBN’s Suzanne Nance.

The competition began in Maine during December with 8,000 students competing at the classroom level with the help of 250 teachers from 43 public, private and parochial high schools from across the state. After surviving classroom, school wide and regional level competitions, ten state finalists gathered in Lewiston to recite three rounds of poetry from memory in front of television cameras and a live audience at the Olin Arts Center. Tyler O’Brien was selected as state champion and will now represent the State of Maine at the National Poetry Out Loud Finals on May 13-15 in Washington, D.C. As state champion, O’Brien will receive an all expenses paid trip for two to the national final, where he will compete for the national title and $50,000 in cash and prizes. All prizes, as well as all materials for running this popular program in high schools across the nation, come directly from the National Endowment for the Arts and their partner in Poetry Out Loud, the Poetry Foundation.


The students that competed at this year’s final were: Bethanie Brown from Waterville Sr. High School; Joshua Elwood from Bangor High School; Monica Frempong from Morse High School; Eloise Harnett from Gardiner Area High School; Brianna Housman from Searsport District High School; Avery Laderer from Boothbay Region High School; Tyler O’Brien from Merriconeag Waldorf High School; Makaela Reinke from George Stevens Academy; Kiana Sawyer from Portland High School and Ellyn Touchette from Gorham High School.

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network televised the state final live from the Olin Arts Center on the Bates College Campus in Lewiston; click here to view the 2012 Poetry Out Loud Maine State Finals.


About the 2012 Maine State Poetry Out Loud Competition

Recitation and performance are major new trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music among our youth. Poetry Out Loud builds on this momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have formed a partnership with state arts agencies to support the expansion of Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Registration is open to all public, private, parochial and home school high schools in Maine.

The competition begins in Maine’s schools where school champions are selected to compete in two regional finals at which ten students are ultimately selected to appear at the state final. One student moves on from the state final to represent Maine at the national finals in Washington D.C.

To compete in Poetry Out Loud, students select their poems from either a print or online anthology; this is updated every summer. At the state and national finals, students must have three poems prepared. One must be 25 lines or fewer, and one must be written before the 20th century. The same poem may be used to meet both criteria, and may be the student’s third poem.

The Maine Arts Commission wishes to thank City Theatre in Biddeford and the Grand in Ellsworth for hosting the 2012 regional finals. We also would like to thank Bates College for hosting the state final and our partners at MPBN for their support in bringing this wonderful program to a larger audience.

For more information about Poetry Out Loud, please contact Darrell Bulmer, Communication Director at the Maine Arts Commission, at 207/287-6746 or by email at .vog.eniam@remlub.llerrad