Grey St. Claire Butler (Courtesy of D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities)

Kari Barclay (Courtesy of Maryland State Arts Council)

(Carol V. Decker , courtesy of Carol Decker)

Carol V. Decker, a junior at Tuscarora H.S. in Leesburg, is the Virginia winner. In Virginia 8, 600 students competed.

On April 28 and 29, these three will join 50 other students to compete in the national finals at the Lincoln Theatre. The host of the Friday finals is Kerry Washington, the award-winning actress who is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. The events are free and open to the public.

The contest, the largest youth poetry recitation competition in the country, is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The finals are administered by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

The participants chose a poem from an anthology of 650 classic and contemporary works prepared by the sponsors.

The most frequently performed poem was “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou and it is now officially retired. Also so popular that students can no longer recite them are: “Hate Poem,” by Julie Sheehan; “Beauty” by Tony Hoagland and “Fever 103” by Sylvia Plath.

Listen to the 2010 champion and the 2010 Maine winner talk about the meaning of the contest and poetry in their lives.