U.P. students in Poetry Out Loud competition

LANSING – Later this month, nearly 40 high school students from across the state, and several from Upper Michigan, will arrive in East Lansing for a powerful poetry recitation competition and a chance to be named the Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion. The event is open to the public and free of charge.  The competition will be held at the Hannah Community Center (819 Abbot Road, East Lansing), beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Poetry Out Loud is a national high school poetry recitation competition of the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation. It has been hosted in Michigan since 2005 by the Michigan Humanities Council and Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs. Since its first year in Michigan, more than 16,000 students have been involved.

Seven Upper Peninsula high schools will be represented: Calumet High School, Jeffers High School (Painesdale), Mackinac Island Public School, Houghton High School, Gwinn High School, Marquette Senior High School, and a home school group of Veritas, Decus, Bonitas Academy (Norway).

This program isn’t just a powerful display of poetry.  By participating in the program, students can master public speaking skills, develop self-confidence and explore literary heritage in a safe environment with their peers. In addition to the competition itself, students will have an opportunity to interact with Detroit-native and successful poet Jamaal May during a private writing workshop.

The Michigan State Champion will receive $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to compete in the national championship in Washington, D.C., and an opportunity to win a $20,000 college scholarship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend toward the purchase of new poetry books. The state runner-up will receive $100 as well as $200 for his/her school library. All Michigan competitors are invited to participate in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. Michigan Youth Arts is offering partial scholarships for all competitors, and full scholarships for the four finalists to participate in the festival.

For more information on attending this free event or the Poetry Out Loud program, visit www.michiganhumanities.org.