Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Listener's Feast

Rhyme and Meter, Rhythm and Blues
The second annual national poetry recitation contest, sponsored by the National Arts Endowment and the Poetry Foundation, concluded on May 1st at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC. Duke Ellington School of the Arts senior Amanda Fernandez took the top prize by riveting audiences with her reading of Ma Rainey*, a vibrant portrait of rural African-American life by poet Sterling A. Brown.

The contest is administered in 50 states and the District of Columbia; winners advance to school-wide competitions, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. Over 100,000 of our nation's youth participated in this year's competition, representing more than 1000 high schools.

For Your Listening Pleasure
Visit the Poetry Out Loud website which includes video and audio clips of the 2006 contest winners (you'll need Windows Media or Real Player) as well as photos of contestants by state. Also try a BBC website for audio clips of interviews with and readings by renowned poets.

*Gertrude "Ma" Rainey [1886-1939] was inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Rainey is widely known as the "Mother of Blues".