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Janae Claxton is Poetry Out Loud national champ

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 26 April 2018

  • Janae Claxton of First Baptist Church School in Charleston wins in Washington
  • State’s first back-to-back champ adds national honors, $20,000 prize
WASHINGTON – Last night in Washington, a Charleston student became the first South Carolinian to win the national finals of the Poetry Out Loud recitation competition and its $20,000 prize. [caption id="attachment_34999" align="alignright" width="250"] SCAC Executive Director Ken May and Janae Claxton celebrate her national championship after the competition. Credit James Kegley/NEA.[/caption] Janae Claxton, a senior at First Baptist Church School, made history already this year in March by becoming the state’s first back-to-back Poetry Out Loud state competition winner. On Tuesday, she added another first to her résumé as the first South Carolina student to advance out of round one of the national finals. By Wednesday night, she was winding down her high school experience as the competition’s national champion. She’ll bring the honor – and its $20,000 prize – back to the Palmetto State, which has offered the Poetry Out Loud competition since she was in first grade. Claxton recited “The Gaffe” by C.K. Williams and “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General” by Jonathan Swift before clinching the top score from the judges with Sharon Olds’ “I Go Back to May 1937.” “[Poetry Out Loud] really does change your life. It really does have that power. For me, it changed my identity, made me see myself differently [and realize] I’m smart, I’m intelligent, I can do this,” Claxton said. “We are so proud of Janae and her historic win—our first national finalist and first national champion. She was absolutely amazing! We are also proud of South Carolina’s Poetry Out Loud program, which involves 7,500 students from 35 schools in 14 counties. We hope that this exciting win will encourage even greater statewide participation,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. Nicholas Amador of Hawaii was first runner-up and Hope Stratman of Nebraska was second runner-up. Photos and videos of the nine finalists who competed in the April 25 finals are available here. Students and schools received $50,000 in awards and school stipends at the National Finals, including $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists. The fourth- to ninth-place finalists each received $1,000. The schools of the top nine finalists received $500 for the purchase of poetry books. 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. Its national finals took place at George Washington University Lisner Auditorium in Washington. The event host was poet and author Elizabeth Acevedo. Guest judges included 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 was musician Kaia Kater.
JANAE CLAXTON, 2018 POETRY OUT LOUD NATIONAL CHAMPION “[Poetry Out Loud] really does change your life. It really does have that power. For me, it changed my identity, made me see myself differently [and realize] I’m smart, I’m intelligent, I can do this.” KEN MAY, SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR “We are so proud of Janae and her historic win—our first national finalist and first national champion. She was absolutely amazing! We are also proud of South Carolina’s Poetry Out Loud program, which involves 7,500 students from 35 schools in 14 counties. We hope that this exciting win will encourage even greater statewide participation.” ROBIN GRAMLING, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHER “When you enter the world of poetry, dream big!! Janae Claxton showed us last night a grace and elegance that was transcendent. When she spoke, the hush in the room was palpable. Janae proved the truth of the poet. A word is indeed not dead when it is said ...but begins to live in unimaginable ways. Thank you Poetry Out Loud for helping resurrect the world with words!” ZURI WILSON-SEYMORE, SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISION POETRY OUR LOUD PROGRAM COORDINATOR “I'm overjoyed with excitement for Janae Claxton and this historic moment for poetry in South Carolina.”
ABOUT POETRY OUT LOUD Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3 million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 schools in every state, Washington, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. For information, visit PoetryOutLoud.org. For information about Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com.   ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants, and leadership initiatives in three areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.   ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. Visit Arts.gov for additional information.   ABOUT THE POETRY FOUNDATION The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audiences. Visit PoetryFoundation.org for more information.

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.

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.

Nine students ready to compete for state Poetry Out Loud championship

Congratulations to the nine high school students advancing to the state finals in the South Carolina Arts Commission's Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The students will compete for South Carolina's spot in the Poetry Out Loud national finals and a shot at a $20,000 scholarship. State finals take place March 11, from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, S.C. The public is invited to attend.

Finalists:

Region 1: Upstate
  • Jamie Montagne, Spartanburg Day School, Spartanburg County
  • Simone Rice, Dorman High School, Spartanburg County
  • Livia Salle, NEXT High School, Greenville County
Region 2: Midlands
  • Taylor Wade, Andrew Jackson High School, Lancaster County
  • Emilie Martin, Fox Creek High School, Edgefield County
  • Alyssa Williams, Spring Valley High School, Richland County
Region 3: Lowcountry
  • Janae Claxton, First Baptist Church School, Charleston County
  • Abby Edwards, Charleston County School of the Arts, Charleston County
  • Julie Crosby, Goose Creek High School, Berkeley County
Nearly 4,000 South Carolina students participated this year, advancing from school-wide competitions to one of three regional competitions held in Spartanburg, Columbia and Charleston. The state champion will compete in the national finals April 24-26 in Washington, D.C. The state champion receives $200, a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books for their school library, and an all-expense paid trip to the national finals. The runner-up receives $100 and a $200 poetry book stipend for their library. [caption id="attachment_29712" align="aligncenter" width="560"]POLcollage2017 Top row, l to r: Alyssa Williams; Region 3 participants. Bottom row, l to r: Region 2 finalists Taylor Wade, Emilie Martin, & Alyssa Williams; Region 1 finalists Jamie Montagne, Livia Salle & Simone Rice; Region 2 judges[/caption] Poetry Out Loud, a program created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement. 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. The winner received a $20,000 scholarship. Statewide partners include the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina ETV Radio's “Speaking of Schools” Program with Doug Keel. Regional partners include Hub City Writers Project in Region 1; One Columbia, Richland Library and S.C. Center for Oral Narrative at USC Sumter in Region 2; and the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Region 3.

For more information, contact Frances Kablick Keel at FMKablick@arts.sc.gov.

Public invited to Poetry Out Loud competitions

[caption id="attachment_25675" align="alignright" width="250"]Nicole Sadek Nicole Sadek, 2016 S.C. Poetry Out Loud champion[/caption] Since school began in the fall, high school students around the state have been memorizing poetry, practicing recitation skills and polishing performances to compete in Poetry Out Loud school-level competitions. School-based winners are competing in three regional competitions taking place January 21 and 22 in Spartanburg, Columbia and Charleston. Winners from each regional competition will advance to the state finals taking place March 11 in Columbia. The competitions are free and open to the public. Regional competition schedule:

  • Region 1 (Upstate) Jan. 21, from 2 - 4:30 p.m. Spartanburg Community College Downtown Campus, 220 E. Kennedy St., Spartanburg, SC 29302 (Please use entrance at back of building.) Counties: Oconee, Pickens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee, York, Lancaster, Chesterfield, Anderson, Laurens, Union, Chester, Abbeville, McCormick and Greenwood Partner: Hub City Writers Project
  • Region 2 (Midlands) Jan. 21 from 2 - 4:30 p.m. Richland Library Main (second floor), 1431 Assembly St., Columbia, S.C. 29201 Counties: Edgefield, Saluda, Newberry, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee, Darlington, Marlboro, Aiken, Lexington, Richland, Sumter, Florence, Marion, Dillon and Calhoun Partners: One Columbia, South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative-USC Sumter and Richland Library Main
For 11 years, the South Carolina Arts Commission has partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the Poetry Out Loud National Poetry Recitation Contest to South Carolina. The Arts Commission engages regional partners to promote participation and to manage regional competitions. Nearly 4,000 South Carolina students participated this year. The state champion will compete in the national finals April 24-26 in Washington, D.C. About Poetry Out Loud Poetry Out Loud, a program created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement. 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. The national winner received a $20,000 scholarship.  

Teachers and students – it’s time to sign up for Poetry Out Loud!

Easy online registration process Back to school time means gearing up for another year of Poetry Out Loud, a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering  a dynamic recitation competition.  Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry. Poetry Out Loud 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. 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 Nicole Sadek 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. 18 is the deadline to register for the 2016-2017 school year. For more information or to register, visit the Poetry Out Loud web page, email Frances Kablick Keel 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 repeats as Poetry Out Loud champion

Nicole Sadek, a senior at Charleston County School of the Arts, has been crowned the 2016 South Carolina Poetry Out Loud state champion, recapturing the title she first won in 2014. Sadek now advances to the national finals May 2-4 in Washington, D.C., where she competes for a $20,000 scholarship. Sadek is the first student to win two state titles in the history of the South Carolina program. Sadek was one of nine regional finalists who competed at the Columbia Museum of Art during the state finals on March 12. 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. As the state champion, Sadek receives $200 and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the national finals. The Charleston County School of the Arts library also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Competition judges were Dr. Dianne "Dinah" Johnson, author and professor of English at the University of South Carolina; author and Poet Laureate for the city of Columbia Ed Madden, associate professor of English at USC; Darion McCloud, founder and creative director of the NiA Theatre Company and Story Squad; and Theresa (T.J.) Wallace, assistant director at South Carolina Humanities. The South Carolina Arts Commission works with several partners to produce Poetry Out Loud. Statewide partners are the Columbia Museum of Art and the "Speaking of Schools" radio program, hosted by Doug Keel and supported by the South Carolina Department of Education. Regional partners are Hub City Writers Project (Region 1); Bravo Blythewood Cultural Arts Council 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, the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts and the South Carolina Poetry Society (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.

Nine high schools students advancing to Poetry Out Loud state finals

Congratulations to the nine high school students who are advancing to the state finals in the South Carolina Arts Commission's Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest! The students will compete for South Carolina's spot in the Poetry Out Loud national finals and a shot at a $20,000 scholarship. State finals take place March 12 at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, S.C.

Poetry Out LoudRegion 1: Upstate
  • Jamie Montagne, Spartanburg Day School, Spartanburg County
  • Daniella Ramirez, Indian Land High School, Lancaster County
  • Wade Wright, South Pointe High School, York County
Region 2: Midlands
  • Destiny Lewis, Spring Valley High School, Richland County
  • Dasha Miller, Westwood High School, Richland County
  • Javonte Waters, Ridge View High School, Richland County
Region 3: Lowcountry
  • Janae Claxton, First Baptist Church School, Charleston County
  • Nicole Sadek, Charleston County School of the Arts, Charleston County
  • James Mayo, James Island Charter High School, Charleston County
Nearly 4,000 South Carolina students participated this year, advancing from school-wide competitions to one of three regional competitions held in Spartanburg, Blythewood and Charleston in January. The state champion will compete in the national finals May 2-4 in Washington, D.C. The state champion receives $200, a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books for their school library, and an all-expense paid trip to the national finals. The runner-up receives $100 and a $200 poetry book stipend for their library. Poetry Out Loud, a program created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement. 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. The winner received a $20,000 scholarship. Statewide partners include the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina ETV Radio's “Speaking of Schools” Program with Doug Keel. Regional partners include Hub City Writers Project in Region 1, the town of Blythewood and Bravo Blythewood in partnership with the University of South Carolina in Region 2, and the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Region 3.

For more, contact Frances Kablick Keel at FMKablick@arts.sc.gov.

Poetry Out Loud deadline extended to Nov. 20

Due to last month's flooding and school closures, the Poetry Out Loud registration deadline has been extended to Nov. 20. Teacher and students across the state are gearing up for another year of Poetry Out Loud, a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering  a dynamic recitation competition.  Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry. Poetry Out Loud 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. 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 Poety 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 Joshua Mugabe of York County (pictured above) winning the state championship and advancing to nationals. This year, more than 375,000 students are expected to take part nationwide. Nov. 20 is the deadline to register for the 2015-2016 school year. For more information or to register, visit the Poetry Out Loud web page, email Frances Kablick Keel or call the South Carolina Arts Commission, (803) 734-8696. The South Carolina Arts Commission partners with the National Endowment for the Artsand the Poetry Foundation to bring Poetry Out Loud to high schools across South Carolina.