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March 24, 2010

Haywood County High School Student Wins Poetry Out Loud State Finals

Tennessee teen will participate in national competition in April

NASHVILLE  - - Clifton Smith, a student from Haywood County High School in Brownsville, won the state finals of Poetry Out Loud on Saturday, March 20. Held at the W.O. Smith Nashville Community Music School, Smith participated along with finalists from 41 other schools. As a result of winning the state finals, he will receive $1,200 in cash prizes and an all expense paid trip to the national finals in Washington, D.C., where he will represent the state on April 25-27.

The Poetry Out Loud state finals were sponsored by the Tennessee Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, W.O. Smith Nashville Community Music School, and the Painted Cupcake.

For the state finals, Smith presented poems including “America” by Claude McKay, “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and “The Cross of Snow” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Perry Burrows, Smith’s teacher, will receive $1,000, an all expenses paid trip to accompany the winner, and a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books for the school library. The Poetry Out Loud state runner-up is Sylvia Haywood from Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, who will receive $600 in cash prizes. Haywood’s teacher is Lynda Pickett, who will receive $500 and a $200 stipend for the purchase of poetry books for the school’s library.

“We congratulate Clifton and his teacher, Perry Burrows, on this great accomplishment,” said Rich Boyd, executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission. “The contest was expanded this year, with more schools participating. There were many talented students, and the competition was extremely tough. Clifton was impressive at the state final, and we wish him the best in the national competition.”

The Poetry Out Loud Tennessee State Finals were judged by special guests including Earl S. Braggs, UC Foundation/Battle professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Blas Falconer, director of creative writing at Austin Peay State University; Mark Jarman, centennial professor of English and director of creative writing at Vanderbilt University; and Whitney Jo, managing director of Playhouse on the Square in Memphis. Judges evaluated the student performances based on criteria including physical presence, articulation, accuracy, and evidence of understanding. At the national finals, a total of $50,000 in scholarship prizes and school stipends will be awarded. Poetry Out Loud 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.

Information on the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest  is available from the Tennessee Arts Commission at www.arts.state.tn.us/POL_TN.htm and at www.poetryoutloud.org.


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