Poetry Slam

by Robert Pondiscio
May 6th, 2008

Another sign that not all is lost in education.  More than 200,000 (!) high school students from 1,500 U.S. schools memorized poems and worked on learning to recite them effectively for this year’s Poetry Out Loud competition.   The Washington Post’s Valerie Lewis filed this dispatch from last week’s finals, won by Shawntay A. Henry of the U.S. Virgin Islands for her recitation of “Frederick Douglass” by Robert E. Hayden.

The contest was created a mere three years ago to capitalize on the popularity of rap and hip-hop. ”We are taking the impulse of the electric popular culture and linking it to the masterpieces of poetry,” poet Dana Gioia, the chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, tells the Post.


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