The Maine Arts Commission has announced that online registration is open for all Maine high schools to participate in Poetry Out Loud 2016-2017, a national competition organized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by MAC. Deadline for registration is Nov. 7.

The Poetry Out Loud state champion earns $200 and an all-expenses paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals. The state winner's school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The National Endowment for the Arts will award $50,000 total in cash and school stipends at the national finals, with a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Poetry Out Loud begins at the local level and can take place in schools anytime between now and Jan. 9 as the program does not require full class periods and can be completed in just two to three weeks. Almost 10,000 Maine students and 220 teachers from 45 high schools across the state participated in Poetry Out Loud in 2015-2016, mastering public-speaking skills, building self-confidence and learning about their literary heritage.

The program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Since Poetry Out Loud began, millions of students at more than 7,300 schools nationwide have been involved. Starting at the classroom level, teachers are provided with free multimedia curriculum materials — a Learning Recitation audio guide, a teacher’s guide, posters and comprehensive website (poetryoutloud.org), all aligned to national standards — to augment their regular poetry curriculum with poetry recitation at a school-level, then district-level competition.

“Poetry Out Loud is one of many examples of high-quality, partnership-based programs that the NEA offers to schools and communities across the country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “By helping students foster creative thinking skills and inspire self-expression, we are laying a foundation for lifelong learning in the arts.”

Poetry Out Loud is aligned with both the National Council of Teachers of English Standards and Common Core State Standards. For more information about the benefits of Poetry Out Loud and how to register, as well as information on all educational programming offered by the Maine Arts Commission, visit the Arts in Education pages of mainearts.maine.gov.

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