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



(Tuscaloosa, Ala.) The Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center was alive with the spoken word on Nov. 15, 2016 when 19 West-Central Alabama students shared their talent in the District 3 Poetry Out Loud regional finals. Prior to this final round in Tuscaloosa, the students participated in a primary competition at their respective high schools.

Poetry Out Loud is a competition 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, POL 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 3 POL 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. in 2017, 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 of Tuscaloosa.

Winners in the Anthology category:

1-Ravan Xandria Mullins, Montevallo HS

2-Jimeria Maxine Smith, Frances Marion School

3-Danika Louw, Holy Spirit Catholic School

4-Delaney Elizabeth Porter, Indian Springs School

5-Mariah A. Martin, Tuscaloosa County HS


Winners in the Original Poetry category:

1-Shalese Mi’Nae Williams, Calera HS

2-Ravan Xandria Mullins, Montevallo HS

3-Allyssa Anna Gendreau, Tuscaloosa County HS

4-Anna Wallace Pitts, Holy Spirit Catholic School

5-Rachel Naomi Moran, Montevallo HS


Judges for the day were John Paul Taylor, Executive Director, Real Life Poets, Inc.; Brian Oilu, The University of Alabama; Maggie Nye Smith, The University of Alabama; Martie Sample, Accuracy Judge; Kevin Ledgewood, Prompter; Paula Demonbraun and Clifton Baker, Scoring. The Region 3 Coordinator for Poetry Out Loud is Sharron Rudowski.

The District 3 participants’ original poetry will be featured in a Slash Pine Press publication to be released in 2017. 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.