This post was written by Argy Nestor and originally appeared on the Maine Arts Education blog.
December 11, 2017
Poets go to school
The Poetry Out Loud (POL) program is underway across Maine and the country. Over 10,000 Maine high students are selecting their poems, furiously memorizing and practicing them for themselves, their classmates, and their teachers.
Maine has 48 high schools participating this year, 10 new to POL. At some schools every student, grade 9-12 participates. Maine is repeatedly one of the states with the highest participation and this year will be no exception. The 2017 Maine State Champ, Gabrielle Cooper, attended Gardiner Area High School; one of the schools where all students participate every year. Three of the new schools this year were fortunate to have
poets visit them to work with students and teachers. Portland’s fifth Poet Laureate, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc provided a workshop at Winthrop High School and Hampshire County Council’s Hampshire Poet Brian Evans-Jones provided workshops at Herman High School and Van Buren District Secondary School.
Students had a chance to experiment with their voices and ‘try out’ their poems for feedback. Both Gibson and Brian are on the MAC Teaching Artist roster and available to provide workshops for schools and community organizations.
Thanks to all of the teachers who are working with students across Maine. I was thrilled to be at Hermon High School for the workshops. Brian led the students through exercises to help prepare their voices and their confidence. He said: “It’s important to understand your poem. The better you understand your poem the better you communicate the meaning and with that comes confidence.” Even listening to students recite their poems 2 and 3 times, I could hear their confidence rise.
Poetry Out Loud (POL) is organized nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Maine’s POL represent public and private high schools as well as high school homeschooling populations.
- The Northern Maine Regional Finals will be held on Monday, February 12, 2018, 3:00 p.m. at the Hampden Academy Performing Arts Center, Hampden. The snow date is Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 3:00 PM. Hampden Academy, Regional School Unit #22, is an in-kind sponsor of this event.
- The Southern Maine Regional Finals will be held on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 3:00 p.m. at the Westbrook Middle School Performing Arts Center, Westbrook. The snow date is Thursday, March 1, 2018, 3:00 p.m.
- The Maine State Finals will be held on Monday, March 12, 2018 at the Waterville Opera House, 93 Main Street, Waterville. The snow date is Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Doors open to the public at 2:30 p.m. and the event begins at 3:00 p.m. No tickets are required. The event is free and all are welcome to attend. We anticipate that the event will conclude by approximately 5:00 p.m.
Learn more about the POL program at the national site or at the Maine Arts Commission POL webpages. If you teach or live near a high school that does not participate please plan on joining the program in the 2018-19 school year. Email Argy Nestor if you have any questions about how to get involved!