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.