Hawai'i State Foundation and Honolulu Theatre For Youth Announces 2020 Poetry Out Loud State Champion

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Hawai'i State Foundation and Honolulu Theatre For Youth Announces 2020 Poetry Out Loud State Champion

From a competitive field of 10 students across the state, Erisan Awaya from Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii, won the title of 2020 Poetry Out Loud Hawaii State Champion at the state finals held in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday, March 1, 2020. The first runner-up was Taylor Cozloff from Kamehameha Schools Kapālama in Honolulu, Hawaii. Third place winner was Kolten Gusman from Kauai High School.

Erisan's final recitation was Golden Retrievals by Mark Doty. A poem written from a dog's perspective that explores relationships and how humans often do not live in the present.

"I am honored to have won this year's competition, and am truly thankful for all the support," Erisan shared. "While fairly new to poetry, the performing arts have always been my passion since a young age. Commitment, dedication, and perseverance are a few words that come to mind in my poetry out loud journey. Poetry has given me another avenue to express myself, while relating to the master poets of years past. Their words, although may be hundreds of years old, are still relatable in today's world full of technology, impersonal communication, and fading humanity."

Erisan Awaya received an award of $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete at the Poetry Out Loud national finals. Erisan's school received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. Taylor Cozloff received $100, with $200 for their school library. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded and travel arrangements to the Poetry Out Loud national finals. Visit poetryoutloud.org for more details on rules and eligibility.

Guest judges presided over the competition, including Mark Branner, Terence (Terry) Liu, Laurel Nakanishi, and Maya Soetoro-Ng. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, accuracy, and evidence of understanding.

A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the state arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. Since the program began in 2005, more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.

Additionally, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation provide free, standards-based curriculum materials which teachers may choose to use in their classrooms, including an online poetry anthology containing more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems, a teacher's guide, lesson plans, posters, and video and audio on the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download these resources at poetryoutloud.org.

Supporters can cheer on Erisan Awaya through a live, one-time-only webcast of the Poetry Out Loud national finals on April 28-29, 2020 at arts.gov. Fans can also host a Poetry Out Loud webcast viewing party to learn more about the art of poetry recitation.

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