Fifty-three students are traveling to Washington to represent their states in the National Finals of Poetry Out Loud competition.
Similar to a spelling bee, the students competed in poetry recitation at 2,000 high schools across the country. They advanced from a field of nearly 386,000 to the final rounds Thursday and Friday at Washington's historic Lincoln Theatre.
This year's most recited poem: "Still I Rise," by Maya Angelou.
Students choose three poems to recite for the finals. One must originate before the 20th century. Students are judged based on physical presence, articulation, understanding, accuracy and other factors.
Top finalists receive $50,000 in awards.
Actress Kerry Washington hosts the finals for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. It will be shown live online.
©2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.