For Immediate Release

Nine Student Finalists to Compete for $50,000 in 2010 Poetry Out Loud National Finals

Award-winning actor John Leguizamo to host tonight’s competition

April 27, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC — Nine high school students will vie for the title of Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a $20,000 award, tonight at the Lisner Auditorium on the George Washington University campus in Washington, DC. The nine students advance from yesterday’s semifinal round of 53 students from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and from a field of nearly 325,000 high school students who have competed in Poetry Out Loud contests in classrooms nationwide. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends for the purchase of poetry books will be given out on Tuesday night.

The nine finalists are:

Alabama State Champion Youssef Biaz (Auburn, AL)
Illinois State Champion Annette Putnam (Andover, IL)
Maryland State Champion Nora Sandler (Bethesda, MD)
Montana State Champion Diego Javier Steele (Lolo, MT)
Nevada State Champion Emily Orellana (Reno, NV)
Rhode Island State Champion Amber Rose Johnson (Providence, RI)
South Dakota State Champion Ruth Haile (Sioux Falls, SD)
Virginia State Champion Tia Robinson (Warsaw, VA)
Wisconsin State Champion Madeline Bunke (Brookfield, WI) 

During tonight’s competition, all nine finalists will compete in two rounds of recitation, having selected classic and contemporary poems by poets ranging from William Shakespeare to Sterling A. Brown. The top three contestants will advance to recite a third poem, and the student with the highest scores from all three rounds will be named Poetry Out Loud National Champion. 

Featured speakers and participants at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals: actor John Leguizamo; NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman; Poetry Foundation President John Barr; author Garrison Keillor; actress and activist Alfre Woodard; poets Valerie Martínez and Jane Shore; poet and critic Adam Kirsch; 2009 Poetry Out Loud National Champion William Farley.

The Poetry Out Loud National Finals take place Tuesday, April 27, 7:00–9:00 PM, Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC. The nine National Finalists are available for interviews from 6:00–6:30 PM. Photo and interview opportunities with finalists and judges take place onstage after the event, 9:15–9:45 PM.

The Poetry Out Loud National Finals are free and open to the public; no reservations or tickets are necessary. For more information call 202-682-5001.

Video crews covering the Tuesday night National Finals must arrive by 6:45 pm to reserve a space.

FOLLOW: Poetry Out Loud is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/poetryoutloud.

For more information on the program, visit www.poetryoutloud.org.

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About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit www.poetryfoundation.org.

Follow the Poetry Foundation and Poetry on Facebook at facebook.com/poetryfoundation or on Twitter @PoetryFound.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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