The Maine Arts Commission is pleased to announce that the 2012-2013 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest is set to begin in high schools across the state in the coming months. Schools interested in participating should visit MaineArts.com for details.

The Maine Arts Commission is working with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to organize the state competition that begins at the classroom level and culminates at the Maine finals, where one student is chosen to represent Maine at the national finals in Washington, D.C.

“Poetry Out Loud is now in its eighth year and continues to grow in popularity here in Maine,” said Julie Richard, Maine Arts Commission’s executive director. “We expect to have at least 50 schools and 10,000 students competing this year across the state.”

The Maine state champion will be awarded $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship in April 2013. The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Participants at the national level will be awarded a total of $50,000 in cash and school stipends; a $20,000 award will be presented to the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Poetry Out Loud invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word and theater into the English class. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Schools participating in the program are provided with curriculum materials that include poetry anthologies, DVDs and CDs. The program does not require full class periods and can be completed in two to three weeks. The Maine Arts Commission provides guidance throughout the process and houses all the required materials on its website.

Teachers can register their school online. Those with questions about the competition can contact Meagan Mattingly at Meagan.mattingly@maine.gov or 287-2790.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.