It’s a South Carolina first.
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).
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”