Tacoma high school student wins Poetry Out Loud state finals

Will Hamel of Stadium High School in Tacoma won the state Poetry Out Loud finals with his recitations of “Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862)” by Herman Melville, “A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg, and “Without Regret” by Eleanor Wilner. As the winner of the state finals, Hamel won a $200 prize, his school gets $500 for the purchase of poetry books, and he will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC, April 27-29.

Fifty-five schools and over 20,000 students in Washington state participated in Poetry Out Loud this year. After classroom-level and then school-wide competitions, these schools sent their top students to one of seven regional finals, held in Northwest Washington, Southwest Washington, Central Washington, Eastern Washington, Southeast Washington, and the Puget Sound region, which was split into two regional finals. Twelve students then advanced to the state finals on March 5 at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. Through three rounds of poetry recitations, they performed works selected from an anthology of more than 600 classic and contemporary poems. Participants were judged by a panel with expertise in various aspects of poetry and performance and awarded points for accuracy, presence, level of difficulty, and other criteria.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Poetry Foundation. This is the sixth year that high school students in Washington State were a part of Poetry Out Loud, a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry. More than 150,000 students across the country were expected to participate this year. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the National Champion. Visit http://www.poetryoutloud.org for more information on this national program or visit http://www.arts.wa.gov to learn more about the local competition.