For Immediate Release: July 10, 2012
Contact: Jeff Morgan
“Iowa's Poetry Out Loud champion performs Saturday in Iowa City”
Gwen Morrison of Marshalltown placed in Top 9 at Poetry Out Loud National Finals
(DES MOINES, Iowa) —Visitors to the Iowa City Book Festival this weekend will have an opportunity to hear the state’s reigning Poetry Out Loud champion recite poems that earned her a top nine finish at the POL National Finals this year.
Marshalltown High School graduate Gwen Morrison will recite poems at 4 p.m. Saturday at the University Capitol Centre during the Iowa City Book Festival in Iowa City.
Coordinated in Iowa by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide program created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation as a pilot project in 2005. The program now includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
“It has been our goal for the past six years to break through the regional competition at the national level to make the Poetry Out Loud semi-finals,” said Dawn Martinez Oropeza, coordinator of POL in Iowa. “Gwen exceeded that goal when she made it to the national finals, making Iowa one of only nine states to reach that level this year. I encourage everybody with an interest in poetry and the arts to hear Gwen perform Saturday.”
More than 365,000 students across the country participated this year at classroom, school and state levels for the opportunity to compete for the national POL championship. More than 1,500 Iowa students competed at classroom and school levels this year. Morrison’s top nine finish at the national level is the highest by an Iowan in the six years since the state began participating in the program.
Poetry Out Loud helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. It also fosters the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on recitation and performance in poetry. Student competitors are judged on accuracy, physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
The Iowa City Book Festival began in 2009 when the University of Iowa Libraries was in search of an event to commemorate the acquisition of the Libraries’ five millionth volume. The University of Iowa Press was also celebrating its 40th anniversary. The Libraries and Press launched a book festival to celebrate these activities in the newly-designated UNESCO City of Literature, with the intention of developing an annual event celebrating books, writing, and reading.