By Meredith Callis –
We are busy getting ready to present the Tennessee Poetry Out Loud (POL) contest, the national poetry recitation contest for high school students, which will be held for the second time at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on March 10th. Students will recite classic and contemporary poems of their choice in a competition style similar to that of the National Spelling Bee at CMHFM’s Ford Theater. The event will conclude with ten students competing in the final round where the winner of that round will be named the Tennessee Poetry Out Loud Champion.
The state champion will receive $1,000, as well as a trip with their teacher to represent Tennessee in Washington D.C. at the National Poetry Out Loud Finals. The winning student of the National Finals will receive $20,000 – an honor received by a Tennessee student in 2014. Poetry Out Loud is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts.
The contest will begin at 10:00 a.m. in the Ford Theater. The event is free and open to the public.
Meet our Emcee
Born in Arlington, Texas, Mickey Guyton began singing gospel in church when she was only five and grew up listening to a variety of artists, including Dolly Parton, LeAnn Rimes, Whitney Houston and gospel innovators BeBe and CeCe Winans. She moved to Nashville in 2011 to pursue her dream and has embedded herself in the town’s songwriter community the last three years. She is signed to Capitol Records Nashville. On January 10, Mickey made her Grand Ole Opry debut at the historic Ryman Auditorium, and is currently putting the finishing touches on her debut album with producers Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift, Keith Urban) and Dann Huff (Faith Hill, Keith Urban, The Band Perry).
Giri (age 13) and Uma (age 10) Peters are an Indian-American brother/sister duo from Nashville, TN. These award-winning multi-instrumentalists – Giri on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, and Uma on clawhammer banjo – have been electrifying audiences with their refreshing, soulful blend of old-time, folk, and roots music. They have attracted the attention of MacArthur Genius Grant awardee Rhiannon Giddens, and banjo greats Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck. Giri and Uma have performed around Nashville and at festivals around the Southeast.
Meet the Judges
Ethan Castelo teaches Literature, Composition, and Creative Writing at Middle Tennessee State University. His fiction has appeared in Prairie Fire and The Journal and has also been honored by Glimmer Train. A few years ago, his novel Drinking from the Devil’s Glass made the rounds to major publishers (though, he is sad to report, it did not find a home). He is currently working on a new novel, and he hopes to finish it soon.
Tim “T-Remedi” Dotson is a native Memphian and Executive Director of Inner City South. T-Remedi is a poet, playwright and Co-Founder of the performance/production company Inner City South. In 2012, T-Remedi established the C.R.E.A.T.E. (Changing Realities Exposing Art To Everyone) program to give urban and lower income communities access to the arts. In collaboration with the YWCA and Shelby County Schools, he explores ways to break down barriers that can render students invisible, powerless, and disposable. T-Remedi believes spoken word has the power to heal and unite our communities by giving a voice to those that feel marginalized and forgotten.
Whitni McDonald works as a freelance writer based in Chattanooga, TN. She has recently returned to Tennessee after earning her MA in Literature in Riverside, CA, then teaching for four years at the Rudolf Steiner Upper School in Manhattan. She is curious about urbanism, ecology, and how art can influence neighborhoods. Most recent projects include communication strategies and events with Glass House Collective, “Field Trip” a local lifestyle column for Nooga, and teaching ELL courses for the city’s immigrant community. Whitni is deeply appreciative of wilderness forays and Chattanooga’s burgeoning cultural scene, both of which inspire her to create as often as possible.
Tia Smedley is a dynamic spoken word artist, whose performances boast of her roots in theatre. She’s helped students “stand tall in their truth” as a teaching artist and poet mentor with Southern Word, for the last 10 years. However, Tia regards herself as more than the titles referring to her skills and gifts. Instead, she chooses to be noted as a child of God, doing her portion of the divine work necessary, to better the human experience.