From Michelle Sipes, Arts Learning Specialist –
On Sunday, May 2, 2021, beginning at 11 pm CST, the Poetry Out Loud national semifinals will broadcast through a one-time-only webcast at arts.gov/poetry-out-loud. The 2021 Tennessee Poetry Out Loud champion is Kendall Grimes, a junior at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN. Watch, cheer, and send support for Kendall during the 2nd semifinal, beginning at 2 pm CST!
For the first time in the program’s 16-year history, the Poetry Out Loud™ (POL) national semifinals and finals will be held virtually this May. Each year, high school students nationwide experience POL, memorizing and reciting classic and contemporary poetry and participating in local, regional, and state competitions. From the thousands of students who competed in 2020-2021, 55 finalists—one from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa—will advance to compete in the POL national finals. The virtual finals will culminate in the announcement of the 2021 national champion, who will receive a grand prize of $20,000. Visit poetryoutloud.org for the list of the 2021 POL state and jurisdictional champions and their high schools.
Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies. This national program encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students, helping them to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. The 2021 finalists come from a diverse range of communities around the United States, including for the first time Guam and American Samoa.
Each of the 55 champions submitted, in advance, video recordings of their poetry recitations to be reviewed and scored by judges with expertise in poetry, performance, and the literary arts. The recitations from all 55 students will be broadcast on May 2 as part of one of three regional semifinals and will include the announcement of the top nine students (three from each region) who will advance in the competition. Visit arts.gov/poetry-out-loud for the full semifinals schedule.
The 2021 POL National Finals will take place on Thursday, May 27 at 6:00 pm CST, hosted by actor and writer Shaun Taylor-Corbett. Webcast at arts.gov/poetry-out-loud, the evening will feature pre-recorded recitations, live interviews with the top nine finalists, and the live announcement of the 2021 Poetry Out Loud National Champion. The national finals judges will include Cathy Linh Che, Eduardo C. Corral, Gabriel Cortez, Idris Goodwin, Elisa New, and Branden Wellington.
A total of $50,000 in awards and school or organizational stipends will be awarded at the national finals, including $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second and third-place finalists. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded for Poetry Out Loud. Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation administers the Poetry Out Loud national finals. Closed captioning and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided for both the Poetry Out Loud national semifinals and finals.