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Shelly Angers, NH Department of Cultural Resources
Twitter: @NHCulture

Catherine O’Brian, NH State Council on the Arts

NH’s 2014 Poetry Out Loud Champion named

Hannah Burke from Jesse Remington High School in Candia is the winner of New Hampshire's ninth Poetry Out Loud championship. Dessaline Etienne from Goffstown High School was selected as alternate champion.

As state champion, Burke receives $200 from the national Poetry Out Loud program and travel expenses from the Poetry Foundation for herself and an adult chaperone to compete at the national championship. Her high school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

The national Poetry Out Loud competition takes place in Washington, D.C., on April 29–30, 2014; high schools students from 50 states will gather to recite their selected poems. A total of $50,000 in cash and school stipends are awarded to participants placing a various levels of the national competition.

Should Burke be unable to attend, Etienne will represent New Hampshire at the event.

The N.H. State Council on the Arts sponsors the Poetry Out Loud national recitation competition for high school students in New Hampshire. The program is initiated and funded through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Funds are provided to state arts agencies to implement Poetry Out Loud in high schools around the country.

Poetry Out Loud encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. Participation in the program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary and cultural heritage. All New Hampshire high schools – public, private and parochial – are welcome to participate, as are home-schooled high school-aged students.

The 2014 New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud program started in the fall with nearly 10,000 students from 37 New Hampshire high schools participating. Students selected poems from a list compiled by the National Endowment for the Arts and the national Poetry Foundation; criteria for judging includes physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, level of complexity, evidence of understanding, overall performance and accuracy.

Finalists from each high school advanced to four regional semi-finals, and the top participants from the regional competitions advanced to the state championship.

Virginia Prescott, host of New Hampshire Public Radio-produced “Word of Mouth” was the master of ceremonies at the championship. State Rep. Stephen Shurtleff opened the event and welcomed students.

Performance judges for the 2014 N.H. Poetry Out Loud finals included Byron Champlin, assistant vice president and program officer for the Lincoln Financial Foundation; N.H. Poet Laureate Alice Fogel; poets Ewa Chrusciel, Neil English, Sidney Hall, Jr. and Rodger Martin; and Sheila Whitney Mable, adjunct instructor at Southern New Hampshire University. Poet Sara Willingham served as accuracy judge. Frumie Selchen, executive director of the Arts Alliance of Northern N.H., supervised the scoring team, which included Sara Coyle, a business analyst, and Kirsty Walker, marketing director at Hobblebush Books. Julianne Morse served as prompter, and Dawn Coutu was available as a backup judge.

In addition to the N.H. State Council on the Arts, the N.H. Department of Cultural Resources, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, several other organizations have contributed to the success of the 2014 New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud program, including key funding provided by the Putnam Foundation, a donor advised fund of the N.H. Charitable Foundation. Partners include the New Hampshire Writers Project, the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, CavanKerry Press, the Frost Place, the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, Toadstool Bookshops, Jean’s Playhouse, New England College, Southern New Hampshire University, the University of New Hampshire and Plymouth State University’s School of Graduate Studies. Additional support comes from Gibson’s Bookstore, RiverRun Bookstore, Water Street Bookstore and the Granite State Ambassadors.

More information about New Hampshire’s Poetry Out Loud program, including a list of high school champions, state semi-final participants and state championship participants, is available by clicking on the “Poetry Out Loud” link at More information about the national program is available at

To learn how your high school or high school student can participate in New Hampshire’s Poetry Out Loud program, visit the N.H. State Council on the Arts website:, or contact Catherine O'Brian, arts education grants and programs coordinator, N.H. State Council on the Arts (603) 271-0795, Catherine.R.O'

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is a publicly funded agency within the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources. It began in 1965 with legislation 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, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Conservation License Plate fund. Learn more about the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts at




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