Poetry Out Loud Scholarship Contest
by Kevin Ladd
The Poetry Out Loud Scholarship is a great way of learning about poetry, trying your hand at it and potentially winning a $20,000 scholarship in the bargain. Even if you don't win the national prize, you can still get $10,000 for finishing second and $5,000 if you take third place. In fact, even if you don't finish in the top three, you can win $1,000 for finishing fourth all the way through twelfth place.
Since 2004, the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and the Poetry Foundation have been offering this scholarship and are now partnering with state agencies to offer dynamic poetry recitation competitions (I picture the movie "Eight Mile" when I think of these, personally).
Poetry Out Loud uses what's termed a "pyramid" structure that begins at the classroom level. Winners of the classroom competitions advance to the school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington D.C. in April.
If you are a high school student who is interested in poetry and think you would like to participate in some competitive "slam" poetry or spoken-word, talk to someone at your school and find out how to get involved in the nationwide competition.