Left: Event host Aaron Henkin announces Brian Gilbert of Howard County places first.
Brian Gilbert, a senior at Marriotts Ridge High School in Howard County, placed first at the 2012 Maryland Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition on Saturday, March 3 at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Radio personality Aaron Henkin of WYPR hosted the event, which featured scored rounds of poetry recitation from eight Maryland students who advanced at classroom, school, county and regional contests to arrive at Saturday’s final.
“The caliber of students’ recitations this year was truly exceptional. The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) is proud to see the Poetry Out Loud program reaching new schools and more students each year, and we anticipate another great outcome for Maryland at the national final this May,” said Theresa Colvin, Executive Director at the MSAC.
More than 15,000 Maryland students in 17 counties and 62 schools participated in POL this year. A panel of judges—all published Maryland poets—scored students’ performances in categories such as level of difficulty, dramatic appropriateness, voice and articulation and overall performance.
Gilbert, who recited “Keeping Things Whole,” by Mark Strand and “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns, will receive $200 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Maryland in the POL national competition on May 13 at the Harman Center for the Arts. His school will receive a $500 stipend toward the purchase of books of poetry.
Returning to the state final for the second year was Kari Barclay, a senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County. Mr. Barclay was the 2011 Maryland state champion and went on to place ninth out of some 365,000 students at the national final. He placed second at the Maryland state final this year, and will receive $100 and a $200 poetry book stipend for his school. Placing third was Cora Lesure, a senior at Annapolis High School in Anne Arundel County.
The Maryland POL program, which encourages high school students to learn poetry through memorization and recitation, is supported by the MSAC in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The statewide competition is open to all Maryland high schools, grades 9-12.