In its tenth anniversary year, the Poetry Out Loud national recitation competition for high school students knocked the socks off a Princeton audience at Richardson Auditorium on Friday at the opening of the Princeton Poetry Festival.
Twelve students, selected from some 38,000 at 162 high schools statewide, read poems in two rounds before four were selected for a final round.
Once upon a time, recitation and elocution were subjects widely taught in schools. No more. But their value is recognized nationwide throughout the Poetry Out Loud competition that began in 2005 and continues to grow in popularity, particularly in New Jersey.
According to Nick Paleologos, executive director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the state ranks first in the nation for student and teacher participation in Poetry Out Loud and the New Jersey program is the fastest-growing nationwide. When it was first launched, just seven high schools participated. Today, 160 high schools across the state take part.