On Saturday, February 22, 2014, The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) held the state finals competition of the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest in Austin. High school students from across Texas participated in the poetry recitation contest for a chance to compete at the national contest in Washington, D.C. in April. The winner of that competition receives a $20,000 scholarship.
The Poetry Out Loud state finals competition took place at, and was hosted by, the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Thirteen students, each having first won their school competition, were evaluated on qualities such as articulation, level of complexity, accuracy and overall performance. Nationally recognized poet Naomi Shihab Nye served as master of ceremonies for the event. The judges for the competition included poets Jill Alexander Essbaum, Jeff “Da’Shade” Johnson, Sasha West, and 2013 Texas Poet Laureate Rosemary Catacalos.
After two rounds, the field was narrowed to five finalists: Lily Gonzales, a junior at North East School of the Arts in San Antonio; Hannah Heidtke, a senior at Coppell’s New Tech High School; Elizabeth Holmes of San Antonio’s TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas; Nia Jones, a student at Carver Magnet High School in Houston; and Kristina Watkins, a senior at the Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School for Art + Design in San Antonio. Ultimately, Ms. Watkins won the 2014 Poetry Out Loud state final. As state champion, she will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. where she will compete at the national level. Additionally, her school will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books and materials. The Texas runner up was Lily Gonzales. She will receive $100, while her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books and materials.
“Poetry is a somewhat less-celebrated art form and as a state we are excited to be a part of this national competition working to bring poetry recitation and the art of poetry itself into the spotlight,” said Dr. Gary Gibbs, executive director of TCA. Poetry Out Loud is a program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the state arts agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. After successful pilot programs in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, Poetry Out Loud was launched in high schools across America in the spring of 2006. In 2013, more than 370,000 students competed.
About the Texas Commission on the Arts
The mission of the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is to advance our state economically and culturally by investing in a creative Texas. TCA supports a diverse and innovative arts community in Texas, throughout the nation and internationally by providing resources to enhance economic development, arts education, cultural tourism and artist sustainability initiatives. For more information on TCA and its programs, please visit www.arts.texas.gov.
About the Bullock Texas State History Museum
The Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin tells the unfolding story of the history, culture and people of Texas. One of the most popular attractions in Central Texas, the museum has welcomed over 6 million visitors since it opened in 2001.The Museum and IMAX Theatre are located at 1800 N. Congress Avenue. For more, visit www.TheStoryofTexas.com or call (512) 936-8746.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts — both new and established — bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.
About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audiences.