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

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

NOTE: Photos from 2010 high school competitions available upon request

2011 NH Poetry Out Loud semi-finals announced

High school champions from across New Hampshire will compete at four semi-final rounds next month to see who will have the honor of representing their school at the 2011 New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud championship, which takes place in Representatives Hall at the State House in Concord on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 7 p.m.

Poetry Out Loud is a national reciting competition for high school students initiated by the Poetry Foundation and National Endowment of the Arts. State arts agencies around the country participate in the project by coordinating competitions where youth are encouraged to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts sponsors the program in New Hampshire.

Poetry Out Loud helps high school students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Competitors select their poems from a pre-selected catalog that includes selections from Shakespearean sonnets to contemporary works. Students are scored based upon several categories, including presentation, accuracy and level of difficulty.

“Students gain far more through Poetry Out Loud than simply learning the poems they perform,” said Catherine O’Brian, Arts in Education coordinator at the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. “The full experience teaches skills that these students will draw on throughout their careers: presentation, interpretation, subtlety, memorization, subject selection, grace under press and more. These are the attributes that make leaders.”

2011 is fifth year the program has been held in New Hampshire and more than 10,000 students from 35 New Hampshire high schools have participated. High school champions go on to compete at one of four state semi-final competitions. Twelve students will ultimately compete at the state championship. New Hampshire’s champion will go on to compete at the national level in Washington D.C., with expenses covered by the Poetry Foundation.

New Hampshire semi-final competitions are free and open to the public, although seating is limited in some facilities and early arrival is recommended. Locations and dates are:

  • Southern New Hampshire University's Walker Auditorium (Robert Frost Hall), Manchester, NH, on Monday, March 7, 2011, at 7 p.m. (snow date: March 15, 2011, 7 p.m.).
  • Keene State College’s Centennial Hall in their new Alumni Center, Keene, NH, on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 7 p.m. (snow date: March 9, 2011, 7 p.m.).
  • Currier Museum of Arts, Manchester, NH, on Thursday, March 10, 2011, 6:30 p.m. (snow date: March 13, 2011, 11 a.m.).
  • New England College's Simon Center, Henniker, NH, on Friday, March 11, 2011, at 7 p.m. (snow date Saturday, March 12, 2011, 1 p.m.)

New Hampshire partners for 2011 New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud include the Badger Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation, the New Hampshire Writers Project, the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, CavanKerry Press, The Frost Place, the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, Toadstool Book Shops, Bagel Works and the Savings Bank of Walpole.

Each of the 35 high school champions and their alternates receives 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 in late April, where $50,000 in scholarships and school prizes will be awarded.

To learn more about 2011 New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud, view the calendar of high school competition dates, or find out how your school can be involved, go to: For additional information, contact Catherine O’Brian, New Hampshire 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. Learn more about the NH State Council on the Arts at




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