Iowa high schoolers with a passion for poetry will have a shot at big scholarships this spring through a new contest. Jeff Morgan, a spokesman for the Iowa Arts Council, says the program is called Poetry Out Loud and it’s being sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Morgan says the N-E-A has sent an eight-thousand dollar grant to the Iowa Arts Council to start a state-level program for students to compete in, with national-level winners shooting for scholarships up to 20-thousand dollars. He says the program will begin in March, to encourage Iowa high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition.
A number of schools (between ten and 30) will be invited to participate in classroom and schoolwide contests, so students will have a high comfort level, competing in their own classrooms and schools. Each school winner will advance to state competitions in April and the state champions will advance to the National Finals in May in Washington, D.C.
Morgan says poetry is seeing a resurgence in recent years through poetry “slams” and the growing popularity of rap music. Morgan says Poetry Out Loud invites all of those things to come together for a learning experience in the classroom and then gives kids the chance to compete and show what they’ve learned. He says it builds confidence, public speaking skills and an appreciation for poetry that’ll last a lifetime. For more information, surf to “www.poetryoutloud.org”.