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History-making Claxton nears Poetry Out Loud national title

Clemson football. Coastal Carolina baseball. USC women's basketball. Can Janae Claxton join the list of recent South Carolina national champions? The senior at First Baptist School in Charleston made history in March by becoming South Carolina’s first back-to-back Poetry Out Loud state champion. Yesterday she made more, becoming the first from the Palmetto State to advance from the regional competition at national finals. Will she make even more tonight when the nine national finalists compete to be national champion and win $20,000? It won't be much longer until that question is answered, and you can follow along tonight during the live webcast from the National Endowment for the arts. The competition runs from 7 to 9:15 p.m. The finals host is poet and author Elizabeth Acevedo. Guest judges include Robert Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress; Lavina Jadhwani, Chicago-based theater director; Robin Coste Lewis, poet and National Book Award winner; Dawn Lundy Martin, poet and professor at the University of Pittsburgh; and Virgil Suárez, poet and professor of at Florida State University. The featured performer is musician Kaia Kater. Nine student finalists representing high schools from Arizona, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Vermont match their skills in reciting classic and contemporary poetry in a contest for the title of 2018 Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a $20,000 award. Poetry Out Loud is a national initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and the state arts agencies. More information about the 2018 National Finals is available here. Poetry Out Loud is on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POL18.

Another win at Poetry Out Loud; repeat champ makes Charleston proud

It's a South Carolina first. [caption id="attachment_34461" align="alignright" width="242"] State Poetry Out Loud winner Janae Claxton (center) receives her trophy from South Carolina Arts Commission representatives Zuri Wilson-Seymore, program coordinator (left), and Ashley Kerns Brown, arts education director (right).[/caption] This past weekend, Janae Claxton of Charleston became the first back-to-back champion of the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition, which is organized by the South Carolina Arts Commission. A senior at First Baptist Church School in Charleston, Claxton was judged the winner after three rounds against five other South Carolina finalists Saturday afternoon at Richland Library Main Branch in Columbia. She won an all-expenses-paid trip for herself and a chaperone as she represents the state in the Poetry Out Loud national finals April 23-25, 2018 in Washington. She also won $200. The national winner receives a $20,000 cash prize.

  • Taylor Elisse Wade of Andrew Jackson High School in Lancaster was first runner up, winning a $100 prize for herself and a $200 stipend for her school to spend on poetry books.
  • Alyssa Stone of Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant was second runner up.
Four first-time judges were part of the Poetry Out Loud state finals: Al Black, Dr. Ray McManus, Dr. Charlene Spearen, and Dr. Ernest Williamson III. SCETV's Beryl Dakers served as event host. Claxton recited three poems from memory on her way to the victory: “The Gaffe” by C.K. Williams in the first round and “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late, Famous General” by Jonathan Swift in the second. Her judges’ score advanced her to the third and final round, where she recited Sharon Olds' “I Go Back to May 1937

Six students readying for ‘Poetry Out Loud’ state finals Saturday

Six South Carolina high school students will compete in the state finals for Poetry Out Loud – an annual, nationwide recitation contest – this Saturday, March 10, 3 p.m. at the Richland Library Main Branch (1431 Assembly St., Columbia). Janae ClaxtonThe S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts to bring the competition to state high schools for 12 years running. In 2017, around 7,500 students from 35 schools in 14 counties participated. School competition winners competed against students in their district to move on and compete in January’s regional finals. The following six state regional winners, three from each of two regions, compete Saturday for the opportunity to be the South Carolina representative in the national finals April 23-25, 2018 in Washington, D.C.:

  • Grant Butler (Aiken High School in Aiken)
  • Janae Claxton (pictured - First Baptist Church High School in Charleston)
  • Sha’Kaila Stewart (Whale Branch Early College High School in Seabrook)
  • Alyssa Stone (Wando High School in Mount Pleasant)
  • Alexia Story (Buford High School in Lancaster)
  • Taylor Elisse Wade (Andrew Jackson High School in Lancaster)
State winners receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the national finals, and the state winner's school will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. Each state’s first runner-up, and that student’s school, receives a cash prize as well. The national winner receives a $20,000 cash prize. Contestant Janae Claxton is the 2017 S.C. Poetry Out Loud winner. Update, 12:25 p.m. March 8: First alternate Alyssa Stone will replace Keegan Dustin, who is unable to perform, on the program.

About Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in 2005, Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the State arts agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Poetry Out Loud offers more than $100,000 is prizes and school stipends each year. It provides free teacher resources and a comprehensive website with a large anthology of classic and contemporary poems, audio and video clips, as well as complete contest information. Since its establishment, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach nearly 3.5 million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 schools across the country. For more information, visit PoetryOutLoud.org.

Teachers: Sign up for Poetry Out Loud by November 22

Like us on the SC Poetry Out Loud Facebook page Poetry Out Loud encourages the study of great poetry by offering  a dynamic recitation competition and is open to students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 in public, private and parochial schools. Homeschooled students may participate by competing in a contest at a local school (at the school’s discretion) or with other local homeschooled students. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry. The program is designed to fit into a teacher’s busy schedule and can take place over two to three weeks, and does not require full class periods. Teachers can work Poetry Out Loud into existing poetry units as the program satisfies most of the NCTE English/Language Arts Standards, as well as many of the state standards. Every teacher who participates in Poetry Out Loud will receive a free toolkit for classroom use. Classroom winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to regional and state competitions and ultimately to the national finals. The state winner receives $200, plus $500 for his or her school library, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington to compete for the national championship and a $20,000 scholarship. The state first runner-up receives $100, plus $200 for his or her school library. Last year more than 4,000 S.C. students participated, with Janae Claxton of Charleston County winning the state championship and advancing to nationals. This year, more than 375,000 students are expected to take part nationwide. Nov. 22 is the deadline to register for the 2017-2018 school year. For more information or to register, visit the Poetry Out Loud web page, email Zuri Wilson-Seymore or call the South Carolina Arts Commission, (803) 734-8696. The South Carolina Arts Commission partners with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring Poetry Out Loud to high schools across South Carolina.

Charleston student wins Poetry Out Loud State Championship

Janae Claxton (pictured above with her teacher, Robin Gramling), a junior at First Baptist School in Charleston, has been named the 2017 South Carolina Poetry Out Loud state champion. Claxton now advances to the national finals April 24-26 in Washington, D.C., where she competes for a $20,000 scholarship. As the state champion, Claxton receives $200 and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the national finals. The First Baptist School library also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Claxton was one of nine regional finalists who competed at the Columbia Museum of Art during the state finals on March 11. Each recited two poems they had memorized and perfected during school-wide and regional competitions that took place throughout the state from October to January, when more than 4,000 students began the competition. Three students were named state finalists and recited a third poem to determine the winner. Competition judges were author and Poet Laureate for the city of Columbia Ed Madden, professor of English at USC; Darion McCloud, founder and creative director of the NiA Theatre Company and Story Squad; Theresa (T.J.) Wallace, assistant director at South Carolina Humanities; and Qiana Whitted, author and associate professor of English and African-American Studies at USC. The South Carolina Arts Commission works with several partners to produce Poetry Out Loud. Statewide partners are the Columbia Museum of Art and South Carolina ETV Radio's “Speaking of Schools” radio program, hosted by Doug Keel. Regional partners are Hub City Writers Project (Region 1); One Columbia, Richland Library and the South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative at the University of South Carolina Sumter (Region 2); and the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences (Region 3). Poetry Out Loud, a program created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through exploration, memorization and recitation. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry. Last year more than 365,000 students nationwide competed. polcompositestatefinals