LITTLE ROCK -- High school students interested in competing in Poetry Out Loud, the national poetry recitation competition, can learn from top ranked poets during a special, free workshop to be held at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 1 at Arkansas Heritage, 1100 North St., Little Rock.

"This is the first time we've offered this kind of workshop, which we believe will give Arkansas high school students the skills and confidence they need to win at the state and national Poetry Out Loud competitions," Director Patrick Ralston said.

Author and poet Stacey McAdoo, who was named the Arkansas Teacher of the year in 2019, and teaching artist TJ Medel, who is a No. 1 world-ranking spoken-word poet, will lead the workshop. Students will gain hands-on experience in understanding and performing poetry. The workshop will cover three categories: "Evidence of Understanding," Voice and Articulation" and "Dramatic Appropriateness."

Poetry Out Loud is a free, high school program that encourages the nation's youth to learn about poetry through memorization and recitation. The Arkansas Arts Council has partnered with the Poetry Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts to bring Poetry Out Loud to Arkansas.

All high-school level students, including homeschoolers, can participate in the workshop. Participants are asked to bring a poem that has been approved by Poetry Out Loud for competition. The workshop is free, but reservations are required by Friday. Food and drinks will be provided.

McAdoo, who teaches at the historic Central High School in Little Rock, has been recognized for incorporating poetry into her educational curriculum. She mixes poetry and passion to elevate her students' voices. McAdoo is also the founder and sponsor of the Writeous Poets, a group of youth poets who travel and perform poetry. She has participated in several spoken word groups, including Word Up!, SanKofa Poets and Foreign Tongues.

Medel has been featured on national television, including HBO, FOX and CNN, for his work in spoken word poetry. He is a writer and performer who has trained at The Second City, iO Chicago and The Annoyance. He earned a bachelor's degree in theater from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and has since performed in multiple competitions, festivals and venues nationwide. Medel, who is now a creative consultant, was the co-artistic director of the improvised spoken word collective PREACH.

Competitions for Poetry Out Loud are being held at the school level, and winners will compete at the state-level competition March 14, at the CAL Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock. The Arkansas Champion will compete April 27-29 in Washington, D.C., for a chance to win $20,000.

Tickets to attend the workshop and the state championship competition are free and available on Eventbrite or at www.arkansasarts.org.

For more information about the workshop, program or state competition, contact Drekkia Morning, arts in education program manager, at 501-324-9769 or at drekkia.morning@arkansas.gov.

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