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Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Cultural Resources
(603) 271-3136

Catherine O’Brian, NH State Council on the Arts
(603) 271 0796

March Madness Finals come early—for poetry fans

March Madness is not just for basketball championships. The finals for New Hampshire’s Poetry Out Loud Contest take place at Keene State College’s Redfern Arts Center on Saturday, March 20, starting at 1 p.m. At the event, a dozen high school students from across the state will compete to represent New Hampshire in the national Poetry Out Loud Contest finals, which take place in Washington, D.C. on April 25-27.

Attendance at the state finals is free and open to the public, although seating is limited.

Poetry Out Loud, a national program of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Competitors memorize and recite poems from a selection chosen by the NEA, and are scored on presentation and accuracy.

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is the NEA’s major partner for the state’s Poetry Out Loud Contest. Other N.H. partners include the Poetry Foundation, the Badger Fund of the N.H. Charitable Foundation, the Arts Alliance of Northern N.H., CavanKerry Press, The Frost Place, Monadnock Writers Group, the N.H. Writers Project, the Poetry Society of N.H., Toadstool Book Shops, Bagel Works and the Savings Bank of Walpole.

In 2010, more than 8,000 New Hampshire high school students participated in the state’s Poetry Out Loud Contest. Thirty-one high school champions then advanced to the regional competitions, which took place earlier this month.

“Poets and poetry has long been part of the fabric of New Hampshire, from Robert Frost to Donald Hall, Jane Kenyon and Charles Simic,” said Catherine O’Brian, Arts in Education coordinator at the N.H. State Council on the Arts. “Poetry Out Loud not only teaches New Hampshire’s up-and-coming generation public speaking and memorization skills, but also increases their appreciation for this art form, helping them become well-rounded individuals that make our communities even stronger.”

Each of the 31 high school champions has already won a merit scholarship award of up to $15,000 from both Southern New Hampshire University and New England College.  At the state finals, Colby-Sawyer College will also offer two scholarship awards. The New Hampshire champion will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, where $50,000 in scholarships and school prizes will be awarded.

For additional information, contact Rodger Martin, N.H. Poetry Out Loud Contest, at (603) 525-4715 or Catherine O’Brian, NH State Council on the Arts at (603) 271-0795,

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is a publicly funded agency within New Hampshire's Department of Cultural Resources. It began in 1965 with the passage of a law designed “to insure that the role of the arts in the life of our communities will continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the education and welfare of our citizens.” Funding comes from state appropriations and from the National Endowment for the Arts. By law, the Arts Council can also accept private, tax-deductible donations and bequests. Learn more about the N.H. State Council on the Arts at




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