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Most of the time, I look at poetry on the page and get distracted by each word instead of focusing on the poem’s general meaning. It’s good, then, that the semifinals and finals of the national “Poetry Out Loud” competition take place at the Lisner Auditorium this week, because there’s nothing like hearing a poem read with conviction. Here’s how the program works: High school students memorize and perform poems from a predetermined pool of well-known works, each state determines a champion, and those finalists face off at the national level. Designed and organized by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, the program is designed to make poetry come off the page and into the everyday lives of high schoolers. The best performers just might reinvigorate the passages you committed to memory before the AP Lit exam. The program begins at 9 a.m. at Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. Free. (202) 994-6800. lisner.gwu.edu.