FOUND: Ledbury Poetry Festival (UK) launches children’s poetry weekend

According to the Hereford Times: An exciting workshop day on Friday, July 6, launches Ledbury Poetry Festival’s unique Out Loud! weekend festival for children. Led by Val Bloom, Chrissie Gittins, and Andrew Fusek Peters, the day offers students the enriching experience of hearing varied forms of poetry performed by renowned poets and the opportunity to work with these writers.

FOUND: Roger McGough promotes Disney Junior’s A POEM IS…

“We don’t want people to be frightened of poetry, we don’t want people to think it’s not for them, or that it’s for posh people or difficult — it isn’t! Poems can be simple and they can be complex but as long as children are given it as an everyday part of their lives, like singing and dancing, rather than it being seen as something special, they will like it.” 

–Roger McGough (to read more, click here)

FOUND: Sir Andrew Motion on the laureateship and poetry in schools

Photo: Stuart Leech

Sir Andrew Motion, poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009, shares some interesting opinions in this article about the laureateship and about poetry in schools. 

“I think it is interesting to think about the absolute animal relish young people have for rhythm and rhyme,” Motion says. ”The antipathy people might feel does seem to be a learnt thing … And if it is that, it can be unlearnt.”

FOUND: Charles Simic tells “Why I Still Write Poetry”

A still from Chess Fever (1925)

What often invigorates me as a poet for children is to read and write poems for adults, and to study the prose of poets who write primarily for adults. In that spirit, I share with you Charles Simic’s short essay “Why I Still Write Poetry” posted yesterday at the blog of The New York Review of Books.

The kind of poems I write—mostly short and requiring endless tinkering—often recall for me games of chess. They depend for their success on word and image being placed in proper order and their endings must have the inevitability and surprise of an elegantly executed checkmate.

NEWS: Nine Student Finalists Compete for $50,000 at 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Finals

Finals judges include the PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown, radio host Garrison Keillor, Alice Quinn of the Poetry Society of America, and poets Marilyn Chin and Major Jackson

Nine high school students vie for the title of Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a $20,000 award at the Harman Center for the Arts, 610 F Street NW in Washington, DC, tonight. The nine students advanced from yesterday’s semifinals, at which 53 students from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, competed. Some 365,000 high school students participated in Poetry Out Loud contests in classrooms nationwide this year. A total of $50,000 will be awarded Tuesday evening to the finalists and their schools.

The nine finalists are:

  • Colorado State Champion Samuel Opoku (Thornton High School, Thornton, CO)
  • Iowa State Champion Gwen Morrison (Marshalltown High School, Marshalltown, IA)
  • Mississippi State Champion Kristen Dupard (Ridgeland High School, Ridgeland, MS) [Announced today as the competition’s winner.]
  • Nebraska State Champion Russell Heitman (Thayer Central Community Schools, Hebron, NE)
  • North Carolina State Champion Jessica Kariisa (Raleigh Charter High School, Raleigh, NC)
  • Pennsylvania State Champion Daphnee R. McMaster (Reading High School, Reading, PA)
  • Utah State Champion MarKaye Hassan (Logan High School, Logan, UT)
  • Vermont State Champion Claude Mumbere (Burlington High School, Burlington, VT)
  • Washington State Champion Langston Ward (Mead High School, Spokane, WA)

During tonight’s competition, all nine finalists will compete in two rounds of recitation, presenting classic and contemporary poems by poets ranging from Alfred, Lord Tennyson to Toi Derricotte. The top three contestants will advance to recite a third poem, and the student with the highest scores from all three rounds will be named Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Featured speakers at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals producing artistic director of the Adventure Theatre, Michael J. Bobbitt; NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman; and Poetry Foundation President John Barr. National Finals guest judges are poets Marilyn Chin and Major Jackson, senior correspondent and regular co-anchor of the PBS NewsHour Jeffrey Brown, radio host Garrison Keillor, and executive director of the Poetry Society of America Alice Quinn.

The Poetry Out Loud National Finals take place Tuesday, May 15, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Harman Center for the Arts, 610 F Street NW, Washington, DC. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. The finals can be viewed remotely through a one-time-only live webcast.