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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 29, 2010

Catherine O'Brian, NH State Council on the Arts
(603) 271-0795
Catherine.R.OBrian@dcr.nh.gov

Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Cultural Resources
(603) 271-3136
shelly.angers@dcr.nh.gov

Photos available upon request

N.H.’s Poetry Out Loud champion named

Arturo Jaras Watts, a senior at Oyster River High School in Durham, has won New Hampshire's fifth Poetry Out Loud championship. Watts will represent N.H. in Washington, D.C., April 25-28 at the national competition.

Poetry Out Loud encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, and helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary and cultural heritage.   Any N.H. high school—public, private, parochial, and home schoolers—are welcomed to participate. There is no charge to compete.

This year’s N.H. Poetry Out Loud program started in the fall with almost 8,000 high school students from 31 high schools participating. Students memorize and perform poems from a list compiled by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and are scored for accuracy and presentation. Finalists from each high school advanced to quarterfinals, and the top four participants from the regionals advanced the finals, which took place at Keene State College.

In addition to merit scholarship offers from Colby-Sawyer College, New England College, and Southern New Hampshire University, Watts will receive a $200 cash award from The Poetry Foundation. Oyster River High School will receive $500 to purchase new poetry books.

Sophomore Natalya Tausanovitch of Windham High School was selected as Alternate Champion. She also received merit scholarship offers from the three colleges as well as a $100 cash award from The Poetry Foundation. Her school library will receive $200 to purchase poetry books.

“These young people presented themselves with poise, showed a deep love of the English language and can hold up to competition,” said State Arts Council Acting Director Lynn Martin Graton. “The country has many challenges ahead of it and I can see from this program that the next generation is up to the challenge.”

Judges for the very competitive 2010 event included Walter E. Butts, N.H.’s Poet Laureate; Dr. Patricia Lindberg, professor of education and coordinator of the M.Ed in Integrated Arts at Plymouth State University; Michele Perkins, president of New England College, Henniker; Frumie Selchen, executive director, the Arts Alliance of Northern NH; Alice Fogel, poet and award winning published writer; and Ann Atkinson, chairperson, Department of Communication, Journalism and Philosophy at Keene State College. The Keene Sentinel’s executive editor, Paul Miller, gave introductory remarks and assisted with presenting awards at the event.

More information about N.H.’s Poetry Out Loud program, including a list of state finalists and high school champions, is available by clicking on the “Poetry Out Loud Competition Underway” link at www.nh.gov/nharts.

Poetry Out Loud is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, with major funding provided by the NEA. The N.H. program's major sponsors are the N.H. State Council on the Arts, The Badger Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Learn more at www.PoetryOutloud.org.

For learn how your high school can participate in N.H.’s Poetry Out Loud program, visit the N.H. State Council on the Arts website: www.nh.gov/nharts, or contact Rodger Martin, N.H. Poetry Out Loud Director, rodgerwriter@myfairpoint.net (603-525-4715); or Catherine O'Brian, Coordinator, Arts Education Grants and Programs, N.H. State Council on the Arts (603-271-0795), Catherine.R.O'Brian@dcr.nh.gov.

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