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High School Students Vie for State Poetry Title

For Immediate Release
March 11, 2010
Media Contact:
Allison Tratner

High School Students Vie for State Poetry Title

(Trenton, NJ) Seven high school students from around the state will compete on Thursday, March 18, in the 5th annual New Jersey Poetry Out Loud State Finals for the opportunity to represent New Jersey in the National Finals in Washington DC next month. The competition is presented by the NJ State Council on the Arts and for the first time will take place at Drumthwacket in Princeton, the official residence of the Governor of New Jersey.

The competition in which students recite and perform great works of classical and contemporary poetry is the dramatic culmination of a statewide contest that began in the fall and included more than 17,000 New Jersey students from 82 high schools and 1 home school association. Students competed first at the classroom and school level, and then at the regional level. Three regional contests were held in the north, central and southern parts of the state to determine who would move on to the State Finals. The seven semi-finalists from those contests (two from each region, one region had a tie) who will compete for the title of NJ Poetry Out Loud State Champion and runner-up are:

Morgan Jerkins, Williamstown High School, Williamstown, NJ
Julia Gosin, Mainland Regional High School, Linwood, NJ
Joanna Latini,
Villa Victoria Academy, Ewing, NJ
Bianca Nichole Hughes, St. Mary of the Assumption High School, Elizabeth, NJ
Shamsuddin Abdul-Hamid
, Arts High School, Newark, NJ
Jessica Leigh Anderson, Kinnelon High School, Kinnelon, NJ
Melanie Harrison, Livingston High School, Livingston, NJ

The NJ State Council on the Arts manages NJ Poetry Out Loud in partnership with Playwrights Theatre of NJ, Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs, Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts, Discover Jersey Arts and New Jersey Network. NJ Poetry Out Loud is part of the national Poetry Out Loud program made possible through the funding and leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation.

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry - recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form and invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, rap, spoken word and theatre into the English class to help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. To maximize the positive impact of the program in New Jersey the State Arts Council partnered with Playwrights Theatre to provide intensive school residencies by professional poets and performing artists for some of the participating schools.

The winner and runner-up will receive cash awards and stipends provided by the NEA and the Poetry Foundation for the purchase of poetry books by their schools. The State Champion will receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC to compete against 52 other State, District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Champions in the National Finals in April. All monetary prizes are provided by the NEA, the Poetry Foundation and Southwest Airlines. Learn more about NJ Poetry Out Loud at www.jerseyarts.com.

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