From her station in the Old Post Office Pavillion, Maryrose Flanigan, a program manager for arts education at the National Endowment for the Arts, oversees planning for Poetry Out Loud. Flanigan stands behind the national poetry recitation competition despite the fact that recitation has fallen out of favor among educators. Flanigan’s inspiration and support came from recent National Endowment for the Arts Chairman (and award-winning writer) Dana Gioia, whose stance is that recitation may not work across all disciplines, but it’s a great learning method for language arts, as students have to spend serious time reading and interpreting a poem in order to recite it correctly.

Flanigan and fellow program manager Leslie Liberato are currently talking shop for this year’s contest. They’ve confirmed that Chris Sarandon will be mc’ing in West Virginia (where a state coordinator recently had to reassure Liberato that the elementary school student featured in a recent newspaper article would be performing at intermission, and not competing) and that Natalie Merchant will be judging the contest in New York. The two are also reviewing a DVD that the NEA is producing for the contest, examining costs, and setting deadlines.

Reporting by Andrew Beaujon