Poetry Out Loud Semi-Finals Set for 3/1-2

Seventy-four high school students from across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will participate in four regional semi-final competitions March 1 and 2 as part of the ninth annual Poetry Out Loud. Semi-final competitions will be held in Boston (sponsored by Brookline Bank), Framingham, Springfield, and on Cape Cod. All upcoming competitions are free and open to the public.

More than 24,000 students from 84 Huntington Theatre Company-supported high schools across the Commonwealth competed in recent months in classroom and school-wide competitions. A complete list can be found at the end of this release.

Each student participating in the Semi-Finals recently won his or her individual school's competition. Semi-Final winners will advance to the State Finals on Sunday, March 9 at 9:30am at Boston's Old South Meeting House, . The Final competition will feature a performance by Langston Ward from Washington State, the 2013 POL National Champion, currently enrolled at Harvard University. The Huntington facilitates the Massachusetts competition with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national recitation competition that celebrates the power of the spoken word and a mastery of public speaking skills while cultivating self-confidence and an appreciation of students' literary heritage as they take poetry from the page to the stage. Since its inception eight years ago, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate both classic and contemporary poetry.

The Massachusetts POL winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC this coming spring to compete in the national finals.

Semi-Final judges and prompters include: Michael Ansara (co-founder of Mass Poetry) and Massachusetts poets Jamele Adams, Sam Cha and Regina Cox. Adams and Cha will also perform.

"The study of poetry may be especially important for kids growing up in the age of tweets," observes Alison Lobron of The Boston Globe. "Close reading, after all, is essentially an act of listening; to learn a poem well enough to speak it aloud with confidence requires careful attention to someone else's words, someone else's experience. It means tuning out the clamor of voices competing for your attention - including your own - until you've fully heard what another person is saying."

The Massachusetts Semi-Final and Final Poetry Out Loud Competitions fall within the Massachusetts Legislature-declared Arts Education Month (March).

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