For Immediate Release                                                   
The Arts Council of Tuscaloosa
Contact: Sharron Rudowski
(205) 345-9801


(Tuscaloosa, Ala.)  The Arts Council of Tuscaloosa recently hosted the District 3 Poetry Out Loud regional finals competition featuring local high school students in the West-Central Ala. area. Prior to this final round in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 20, 2014 at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, 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.

Students competing in the District III Poetry Out Loud program were eligible to compete in 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, Ala. on Feb. 16, 2015, 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.

Those competitors who will advance to the State competition are:

Anthology Recitation

1st Place           Devon Blake Cartwell – Calera High School -teacher, Mary Rees

2nd Place         Ashlynn Berry – Indian Springs School –  teacher, Douglas Ray

3rd Place          Nicole Louw – Holy Spirit Catholic School – teacher, Jonathan Loper

4th Place          Francis Pope – Montevallo High School – teacher, Erma Hinton

5th Place          Geortez Williams – Brookwood High School – teacher, Ashley Sellers

Original Poetry

1st Place           Nicole Louw

2nd Place         Geortez Williams

3rd Place          Samuel Reece   Montevallo High School

4th Place          Henry Pitts     Holy Spirit High School

5th Place          Emily Tryon     Montevallo High School

Judges for the day were John Paul Taylor, Executive Director, Real Life Poets, Inc.; Patti White, PhD, Professor of English, The Slash Pine Projects, The University of Alabama; and Ashley Chambers, MFA Candidate, The University of Alabama. Accuracy Judge was Andy Johnson, MFA, Instructor, The University of Alabama; and

D. Jay Cervino, director of Systems and Network Services, The University of Alabama and The Arts Council Board Member, served as Prompter. Sharron Rudowski, Education Director and Gallery Coordinator, Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa County, serves as Poetry Out Loud Regional Coordinator.

The District 3 participants’ original poetry will be featured in a Slash Pine Press publication to be released in 2015.  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 Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center is located at 620 Greensboro Avenue in downtown Tuscaloosa. For more information about The Arts Council, Bama Theatre or CAC, 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.