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Poetry Out Loud National Finals

May 09th, 2011 @ 4:54pm EDT
In a poetry recitation competition, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, featuring over 365,000 participants from high schools all across the nation, sixteen-year-old Youssef Biaz, from Auburn, Alabama, was named the champion. Biaz received, in addition to a trophy given on the night of the finals, a $20,000 prize, and his high school will take home $500 to spend on poetry books. The 6th annual Poetry Out Loud National Finals, which began in September of 2010, concluded on April 29 at Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C. Biaz competed over the weekend against eight other national finalists who were whittled down from fifty-three state champions.

The second-place winner was Victoria DiMartile of Fort Mitchell Kentucky. She collected a $10,000 prize, and the rest of the finalists each received at least $1,000 and $500 for their high schools.

The contestants’ recitations were judged on physical presence, articulation, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, and accuracy. The panel of judges included poets Valerie Martinez, Thomas Sayers Ellis, and Brian Turner among others. Biaz’s final poem recitation was Elizabeth Bishop’s “Filling Station.”

“I feel incredible, it hasn’t really hit me yet,” said Biaz, shortly after learning he had won.
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