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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 today, 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. Read more >>> The program begins at 9 a.m. at Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. Free. (202) 994-6800. lisner.gwu.edu(Rachel Kurzius)


Al Crostino owners Lina and Juliana Nicolai closed their U Street NW restaurant late last year after their landlord, JBG Companies, did not renew their lease in order to make way for condo construction. But the Italian spot will be making appearances in the neighborhood again through monthly pop-up dinners at Den of Thieves (formerly Hanoi House) beginning tonight, with 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. seatings. The four-course menu will include antipasti, pasta, a fish or meat course, and dessert. To make a reservation, email jknicolai@gmail.comDen of Thieves, 2005 14th St. NW. (202) 747-2377. denofthievesdc.com(Jessica Sidman)


British electronic duo Jack Beats performs at U Street Music Hall with DJs AC Slater and Harry Ransom. 9 p.m. at 1115 U St. NW. $15.

The Standells, the band behind everyone’s favorite Red Sox anthem, play the Black Cat Backstage with Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness. 8 p.m. at 1811 14th St. NW. $15.

Boston symph-pop band Art Decade takes the stage at Velvet Lounge with Bowie folk-punk group Wise Eyes. 9 p.m. at 915 U St. NW. $8.

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