WANT TO GO?
Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest
WHERE: Culture Center Theater
WHEN: 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Poetry is alive and well in West Virginia. This weekend, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts will host the state's semifinal and final rounds of the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest at the Culture Center Theater.
Twenty-three high school students from around the state will compete in the semifinal round on Friday with the top 10 returning Saturday for the finals, hosted by noted actor and Beckley native Chris Sarandon.
Joining Sarandon this year as a special guest and featured performer is Emmy-nominated actress and poet Amber Tamblyn. The 28-year-old Californian last appeared in Danny Boyles "127 Hours" with James Franco but is probably best known for playing Joan on CBS's "Joan of Arcadia."
"Poetry is something I've loved my whole life," Tamblyn said, "but it's not strange that people don't know that about me."
More than a few actors, she acknowledged, have artistic side projects that sometimes come to the light after they become celebrities. They play the banjo, go to college between movies or play in obscure rock bands to earn what Tamblyn called "extracurricular street cred."
For Tamblyn, her love of poetry didn't start after she got a TV show. She grew up with poetry.
"My parents raised me around a lot of poets, writers and musicians," she said. "People of that world. I just grew up around that culture."
Tamblyn is the daughter of Bonnie Murray Tamblyn, a folk singer, and Russ Tamblyn, an actor best known for his Oscar-nominated performance as Rif in the film version of "West Side Story."
She started writing poetry when she was 9 years old and began publishing while in her teens. She did not make a huge splash on the literary scene, but that was never the point.
"My mom used to take me to Kinkos," she said. "I would publish chapbooks and sell them at school for a dollar."
Better than whatever money she made was holding those books in her hands, Tamblyn said. She loved to see the hard copy of what she'd done.