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.