WYOMING – The Wyoming Arts Council hosts the Poetry Out Loud State Finals Competition on Monday, March 4 at 7pm at the College Community Center Playhouse at Laramie County Community College, 1400 East College Drive in Cheyenne.

Awards will be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday, March 5 at 10:30am in the lobby of the Barrett Building, 2301 Central Avenue. The public is invited to attend both events.

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is the national recitation and memorization contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. Designed specifically for students in grades 9-12 attending public, private or home schools, the POL program is a fun way to teach and learn language arts standards through poetry.

Students first compete at the classroom and school levels before participating in the state finals competition. Each school champion will recite three poems. Wyoming’s state champion will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete at the National Finals.

The state champion’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up will receive $100; his or her school will receive $200 for their school library.

This year’s judges for the state competition are Wyoming’s Poet Laureate Eugene Gagliano, Casper College Instructor and Award-Winning Poet Chad Hanson, Wyoming poet Matt Daly, Wyoming poet and essayist Rick Kempa, and Wyoming author and poet Mandie Hines.

The event will be emceed by Wyoming Public Radio’s Education Reporter, Tennessee Watson.

POL builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, encouraging the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. Students can work on mastering comprehension, public speaking, acting, performance, drama and English skills while building self-confidence and internalizing our rich literary heritage.