Aryeh Lax, a student from Anchorage, was among the 53 Poetry Out Loud champions who participated in the National Finals of Poetry Out Loud, held in Washington, D.C., on May 14-15. Lax, representing Alaska, competed with poetry champions from every state, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Lax presented two poems -- “First Poem for You” by Kim Addonizio, and “A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky” by Lewis Carroll -- both of which he recited in Juneau during the Poetry Out Loud finals at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center in March.
Lax, a student at Steller Secondary School in Anchorage, received an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the National Finals after advancing from high school and state-level competitions.
”It was really amazing to meet teenagers from around the country who were all so passionate about poetry,” he said in a release. “These are absolutely the next generation of poets and speakers, and it’s great that there’s an organization out there working to encourage these kids and connect them with other like minds.”
The Poetry Out Loud National Finals were judged by special guests including Garrison Keillor, host and writer of “A Prairie Home Companion” and “The Writer’s Almanac”; Alice Quinn, executive director of the Poetry Society of America; Michael J. Bobbitt, producing artistic director at Adventure Theatre in Washington, D.C.; Jeffrey Brown, senior correspondent and co-anchor of PBS NewsHour; Marilyn Chin, poet and educator; and Major Jackson, author of three collections of poetry. Judges evaluated the student performances based on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, accuracy, and evidence of understanding. A
The National Champion was Kristen Dupard of Ridgeland, MS, with Claude Mumbere of Burlington, VT on 2nd Place and MarKaye Hassan of Logan, UT on 3rd Place.
Poetry Out Loud, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. For more information, visit jahc.org/arts-education/poetry-out-loud/ and www.poetryoutloud.org.