D.C. Student Poets Rock the Woolly Mammoth Theatre
Larry Saxton | 2/25/2009, 11:30 a.m.
Eleven District of Columbia high school students rocked a packed audience of fellow students, teachers, parents and other supporters as they competed in the Poetry Out Loud State Final€s Recitation Competition at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre on Mon., Feb. 23. Poetry Out Loud is a program created by the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation to encourage the development of public speaking and memorization skills in high school students through poetry recitation.
The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities sponsored the contest and TV One€s Princess of Controversy hosted the event. DJ Chris Styles provided the musical interludes between each contestants€ performance.
Each contestant recited one poem for the opening round, and one for the final round if they were chosen. Their poems had to be selected from the official list of poets such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Robert Browing, Langston Hughes, E.E. Cummings, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Frost, and others. The students were judged in physical appearance, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, level of difficulty, and evidence of understanding.
Active individuals of the District€s arts community sat on a panel as judges, including writer/poet Charneice Fox.
€I am really proud of their ability to pull on history and call on history and actually use that to speak to an audience,€ Fox said. €It€s one thing to write your own poetry, but it€s something else to be able to look at the greats and recite those poems; I think that€s great.€
Other student finalists included Turnner Allou, Seed PCS; Omotayo Aweda, Banneker HS; Vivian Campanella, Washington Latin PCS; Sashia Colbert, Friendship Collegiate Academy; Ariel Collins, Coolidge HS; Jonetta Jackson, Young America Works PCS; Rachel Lyle, Hyde Leadership PCS, Delonta Smith, Wilson Senior HS and Veronica Beverly, Bell Multicultural School.
Jordan Seace, a student at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, won the second place. The 2009 first place winner of the poetry competition was Wesley Mann, a senior, and an aspiring actor at St. Anselm€s Abbey School. Mann recited €Dove Beach€ by Matthew Arnold and €I Am€ by John Clare.
€For me, saying a message is a lot easier than creating one. [I] read it [and] understood what the author is trying to say,€ Mann said. €I allow it to speak to me and then allow myself to be a medium through which the audience can hear the author.€
Mann will represent the District of Columbia at the national competition at the Lisner Auditorium from April 26-28. The national winner will receive a $20,000 college scholarship.
For more information please visit www.poetryoutloud.org. Larry Saxton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.