Saint Paul, MN — Students from Mankato East High School and Family Altar Lutheran School will compete in a Poetry Out Loud regional competition this Sunday, February 9, 2020, vying for a chance to represent the state of Minnesota in the national competition in Washington, DC.

The competition will be held at the Northfield Arts Guild Theater, 411 Third Street W, Northfield, MN 55057. It begins at 2:30 p.m. and will end with an award ceremony at 7:30 p.m. A schedule for the day, and for all regional competitions, is available online at http://www.arts.state.mn.us/other/poetry.htm. Regional competitions are free events; all are welcome to attend and show their support for the students.

Poetry Out Loud is a national program created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. High school students throughout the country participate.  Through it, they learn about great poetry through memorization and performance; they master public speaking skills and build self-confidence, and they learn about literary history and contemporary life. The program also helps schools meet language arts education standards.

In April, one student from each state will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete for the national Poetry Out Loud championship.  A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be given at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the national champion, $10,000 for the student who wins second place, $5,000 for the third-place winner, and $1,000 for fourth through ninth place winners. The schools of each of the top nine finalists receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials.

Last year, Isabella Callery of Northfield represented Minnesota and won the 2019 Poetry Out Loud National Championship.  She is the first Minnesotan to have earned this national title.

The South Central Service Cooperative, located in North Mankato, is coordinating the Minnesota Poetry Out Loud program, with financial support from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Since the program began in 2005, more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.  Poetry Out Loud takes place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U. S. Virgin Islands.

More about the national Poetry Out Loud program is available online at https://www.poetryoutloud.org/.