For Immediate Release                                                  
The Arts Council
Contact:  Kevin Ledgewood
(205) 758-5195, x6


(Tuscaloosa)  The Arts Council of Tuscaloosa recently hosted the District III Poetry Out Loud regional finals competition featuring local high school students in the West-Central Alabama area.  Prior to the final round in Tuscaloosa on November 27, 2012, the students participated in a primary competition at their respective high schools.

Poetry Out Loud is a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. After successful pilot programs in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, Poetry Out Loud was launched in high schools nationwide in the spring of 2006 with tens of thousands of students participating. POL has grown every year with over 365,000 students competing in 2011-2012.

Students competing in the District III Poetry Out Loud program participated in either the national/anthology portion of the program, the original poetry portion or both.  The Alabama State Council on the Arts sponsored the original poetry competition. Traveling to Montgomery, AL in 2013, the winners in both the recitation and original poetry portions will compete in the state-wide competition.  Winners in the national/anthology portion will then have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for a final round.  Sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, Alabama State Council on the Arts and The Arts Council.

National /Anthology Winners:

1st: Shaylyn Rice – Ramsay High School, Jefferson County
2nd: Ellen Grappe – Holy Spirit High School, Tuscaloosa County
3rd: Meghan Marks – Indian Springs School, Shelby County
4th: Charles Nash – Brookwood High School, Tuscaloosa County

Original Poetry Winners:

1st: Tiara Bradford – Ramsay High School, Jefferson County
2nd: Kahzar Powell – Northridge High School, Tuscaloosa County
3rd: Andranell McKinney – Brookwood High, Tuscaloosa County
4th: Daijah Abercrombie – Ramsay High, Jefferson County
5th: Ellen Grappe – Holy Spirit High School, Tuscaloosa County

Judges for the day were John Paul Taylor, Executive Director for Real Life Poets, Inc.; Abraham Smith, MFA, Instructor at The University of Alabama; and Patti White, PhD, Professor of English, The Slash Pine Projects at The University of Alabama.  Tessa Fontaine, MFA Candidate, English Department at The University of Alabama, served as Accuracy Judge and Kevin Ledgewood, Arts Council Publicist, was Prompter.  Sharron Rudowski, Director of Educational Programs for The Arts Council, was the coordinator of the event for District 3.

The District 3 participants’ original poetry will be featured in a Slash Pine Press publication to be released in 2013.  Slash Pine Press, based at The University of Alabama, produces limited-run chapbooks of poetry and other mixed-genre works, and occasionally hosts off-the-beaten-path reading events, including the Slash Pine Poetry Festival held at the end of April.  Through this program, undergraduate students conceive and execute their own notions of book design, imagine and locate their own spaces for engaged performance, and form and upload their own versions of a relevant internet presence.

The Bama Theatre is located at 600 Greensboro Avenue in downtown Tuscaloosa. For more information about The Arts Council or Bama Theatre, patrons should LIKE the Facebook page “The Arts Council – Bama Theatre – Cultural Arts Center” and follow tuscarts on Twitter. Call 205-758-5195 or visit tuscarts.org for further information.