Our Views: A contest for poetry

For many generations, Americans memorized and recited poetry in school, which was a great way for the broad masses of popular culture to connect with the power and promise of verse.

That educational practice became less popular in recent decades, but now poetry recital among young people is making a comeback, thanks to Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation contest for high schoolers that’s staging its national finals today in Washington, D.C.

The finals will be webcast this evening at 6 p.m., and you can check them out at http://www.arts.gov/national/poetry/2013-webcast.html.

We’re glad to know that the U.S. Poetry Out Loud program has inspired similar poetry recitation competitions in Canada and Great Britain. More information about Poetry Out Loud is available at http://www.poetryoutloud.org.

If you think that listening to a teen recite one poem after another sounds boring, check out some of last year’s contestants at http://www.youtube.com/user/poetryoutloudvideos.

These young men and women don’t simply recite their poems; they act them out. The results can be stirring — a reminder of the music that lives within the English language.

The revival of poetry in high school classrooms is a nice reminder that in education, some of the best ideas are the old ones.