SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -   The Poetry Out Loud program and competition originally scheduled for Wednesday, February 5 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), has been postponed due to the anticipated inclement weather.  The participating Essex County schools and SOPAC have agreed to reschedule the Region 5 (Essex County) competition on Thursday, February 13, at 10 a.m.

"The safety of students is our highest priority and we want to be sure that all students who are competing will be transported safely," said Linda Beard, NJ Poetry Out Loud Region 5 Coordinator and Manager of Education and Community Programs for SOPAC. "Regretfully, we must postpone this event and we look forward to welcoming the competitors, and their classmates, to SOPAC next week."

From November 2013 to January 2014, local high schools participated in classroom and school-wide Poetry Out Loud contests, with the winners advancing to the Region 5 Competition at SOPAC. Two winners from the Region 5 Competition will participate in the statewide competition to be held in March 2014 and the state champions will advance to the National Finals in April 2014, in Washington, DC. State champions receive $200 and an all expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, for the national championship. State champions’ high schools receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books for the school library. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in cash and school stipends at the National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Created and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud New Jersey is presented in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA), Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, and Discover Jersey Arts. Poetry Out Loud is a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, recitation, performance, and competition.