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NEA announces 2022 ‘Poetry Ourselves’ winners

Top prize-winner a familiar name

The various winners of the Poetry Out Loud competitions held in U.S. states and jurisdictions reach their status by reciting the works of others. But you might not know that there's plenty of original content coming from them.

[caption id="attachment_49532" align="alignright" width="250"] Emily Allison. Provided photo.[/caption] Today, the National Endowment for the Arts announced the 2022 winners of  Poetry Ourselves, a companion competition open to the Poetry Out Loud state and jurisdictional champions that highlights their original poetry. South Carolina is represented by our back-to-back Poetry Out Loud champion, Emily Allison of Greenville. The 2022 Poetry Ourselves winners are: Student participants of the Poetry Out Loud program memorize and recite works of classic and contemporary poetry. Recognizing that many Poetry Out Loud participants also create their own work, Poetry Ourselves was launched in 2016 as part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ 50th anniversary as a way to encourage student creativity. Each champion had the opportunity to submit an original work of poetry in one of two categories—written or spoken—which were judged by poet Chen Chen. “By exploring a wide range of poetry through Poetry Out Loud, students can find inspiration to express themselves creatively in other ways,” said Amy Stolls, director of Literary Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts. “Thank you to this year’s Poetry Ourselves winners for sharing their own poetry with us.” Winning poems are shared through the National Endowment for the Arts’ website at the links above.

Poetry Out Loud national semifinals this weekend!

All 55 Poetry Out Loud state and jurisdictional champions will compete in the Poetry Out Loud national semifinals, webcast this Sunday, May 1, 2022 beginning at 12 p.m. ET at Arts.gov/Poetry-Out-Loud. The top nine students will move on to the national finals, which will be webcast on Sunday, June 5, 2022, and include the announcement of the 2022 national champion, who will receive a grand prize of $20,000. Visit Arts.gov for full details.

About Poetry Out Loud

A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the state arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. Poetry Out Loud starts at the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Students memorize and recite poems they select from an anthology of more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems. Winners then may advance to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the national finals. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated in Poetry Out Loud. For more information about Poetry Out Loud and how to participate in the 2022-2023 program, visit PoetryOutLoud.org

Jason Rapp

Greenville student repeats as S.C. Poetry Out Loud champ

Upstate students sweep honors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A Greenville high school student is now two-for-two against her statewide Poetry Out Loud peers after repeating as South Carolina champion over the weekend in the state finals.

[caption id="attachment_49532" align="alignright" width="300"] Emily Allison. Provided photo.[/caption] Emily Allison, now a sophomore and now at the Fine Arts Center of Greenville, made it two in a row Saturday, earning first prize over seven other finalists in a virtual competition. Allison was champion last year in her first experience in a contest that often favors more experienced students. The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the competition to South Carolina 9-12 graders. Each finalist was recorded reciting three poems via a video conference with Poetry Out Loud State Coordinator Bonita Peeples and prompter Thomas Maluck, teen services librarian for Richland Library. The videos were sent to the four judges and an accuracy judge. After two rounds of evaluation, the top three scorers proceeded to the final round. They were: Allison; Harper Scott of Greenville who also attends the Fine Arts Center; and Catherine Wooten, who attends Westgate Christian School in Spartanburg. Allison prevailed in the final round, and Scott was named runner-up. As state winner, Allison will receive a $200 prize and get to represent South Carolina in the national finals competition among a total of 55 state and jurisdictional finalists for the chance to win the $20,000 first prize. The 2022 national finals will also be held virtually. A semifinal round is scheduled for Sunday, May 1 and the national finals will take place Sunday, June 5. Both will stream on arts.gov, website of the National Endowment for the Arts. Al Black, poet and arts advocate; Ray McManus, English professor at UofSC Sumter; Michele Reese, English professor at UofSC Sumter; Kimberly J. Simms, author and educator, served as judges. Each is an accomplished poet residing in South Carolina dedicated to training the next generation of poets. The SCAC’s Kevin Flarisee of Columbia was accuracy judge.

About Poetry Out Loud

A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Learn more at PoetryOutLoud.org.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in four areas: arts learning, community and traditional arts, artist development, and arts industry. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for #Arts4SC and #SCartists content.
South Carolina Arts Commission News Release, Media Contact: Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director. jrapp@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8899

Jason Rapp

Eight competitors reach S.C. Poetry Out Loud finals

State finals to be held virtually March 5


for immediate release

COLUMBIA, S.C. – From among statewide submissions, judges selected eight finalists who now have a chance to represent South Carolina this spring in the national finals of Poetry Out Loud—an annual, nationwide recitation contest.

The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud South Carolina (POLSC), partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the competition to the state’s high schools. The program seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry—recitation and performance. POLSC Coordinator Bonita Peeples once again arranged a 2021/2022 competition with a virtual structure. The first step, now complete, was inviting students in grades 9-12 to submit videos to twin regional competitions, each with its own set of different judges. Both regionals yielded four finalists to compete in the competition’s next step: virtual state finals on Saturday, March 5, 2022. The eight finalists come from four schools in Charleston, Greenville, and Spartanburg. Students from Region 1, roughly the lower half of the state, all come from Charleston County School of the Arts. They are:
  • Tea Allen
  • Kenneth Carrington
  • Natalie Holland
  • Adam Maierle
Finalists from Region 2, which is roughly the upper half of the state, represent three schools. The students are:
  • Emily Allison, 2021 state champion (Fine Arts Center of Greenville)
  • Harper Scott (Fine Arts Center of Greenville)
  • Catherine Wooten (Westgate Christian School of Spartanburg)
  • Caleb Xiao, 2021 first runner-up (Spartanburg Day School in Boiling Springs)
Adjudicating the virtual finals will be veteran Poetry Out Loud judges Al Black, Dr. Ray McManus, Michelle Reese, and Kimberly J. Simms. Each is an accomplished poet residing in South Carolina dedicated to training the next generation of poets. Each finalist will meet virtually to record three one-take recitations with Peeples and a prompter. The judges will review the recitations and determine a state champion and first runner-up. The state finals champion will receive a $200 prize and get to represent South Carolina in the national finals competition for the chance to win a $20,000 first prize. Cancelled in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the national finals returned virtually in 2021 and will be virtual again in 2022. Find out more about the national competition here.
About the South Carolina Arts Commission The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in four areas: arts learning, community and traditional arts, artist development, and arts industry. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for #Arts4SC and #SCartists content.
South Carolina Arts Commission News Release. Media Contact: Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director. jrapp@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8899.

Jason Rapp

Greenville 9th grader is S.C. Poetry Out Loud champ

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


COLUMBIA, S.C. – Greenville High School 9th grade student Emily Allison is the 2021 South Carolina Poetry Out Loud champion after winning the annual recitation contest’s first virtual competition. [caption id="attachment_46626" align="alignright" width="200"]Headshot of Emily Allison, blonde female student with green eyes wearing a deep magenta sleeveless top. Emily Allison[/caption] Allison’s body of work earned her first prize over seven other finalists in her first experience with the competition. In lieu of the usual in-person state final competition, each finalist was recorded reciting three poems via a video conference with Poetry Out Loud State Coordinator Bonita Peeples and prompter Thomas Maluck, teen services librarian for Richland Library. The videos were sent to the four judges and an accuracy judge. After two rounds of evaluation, the top three scorers proceeded to the final round. They were: Allison; Teagan Domm, a junior at Academy Magnet High School in Charleston; and Caleb Xiao, sophomore at Spartanburg Day School who was first runner-up. The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the competition to the state’s high schools. Poetry Out Loud looked different in the 2020/2021 school year out of necessity. Peeples arranged a competition with a different structure for students in grades 9-12. Participants across the state submitted videos that were judged in twin regional competitions that yielded eight finalists, one of whom was Allison. As state winner, Allison will receive a $200 prize and get to represent South Carolina in the national finals competition for the chance to win the $20,000 first prize. The 2021 national finals will also be held virtually. A semi-final round is scheduled for Sunday, May 2 and the national finals will take place Thursday, May 27. Both will stream on arts.gov, website of the National Endowment for the Arts. Al Black, poet and arts advocate; Ray McManus, English professor at UofSC Sumter; Michele Reese, English professor at UofSC Sumter; Kimberly J. Simms, author and educator, served as judges. Each is an accomplished poet residing in South Carolina dedicated to training the next generation of poets. The SCAC’s Kevin Flarisee of Columbia was accuracy judge.

About Poetry Out Loud

Now in its 15th year, 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 in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. 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 in 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 4 million students and 65,000 teachers from 16,000 schools. For more information, visit PoetryOutLoud.org.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media.

Jason Rapp

SCAC announces eight competitors for Poetry Out Loud state finals

Finalists from Aiken, Boiling Springs, Charleston, Greenville, & Myrtle Beach


COLUMBIA, S.C. – Eight South Carolina high school students will compete in the state finals for Poetry Out Loud—an annual, nationwide recitation contest—scheduled to be held virtually on March 6, 2021. The S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the competition to the state’s high schools. Rather than be completely upended like so much else in the 2020/2021 school year, Coordinator Bonita Peeples arranged a competition with a different structure. In lieu of class or school competitions, students in grades 9-12 were invited to submit videos to be judged in twin regional competitions. Both regionals yielded four finalists to compete on Saturday, March 6, 2021 in the virtual state finals:
  • Emily Allison (Greenville High School in Greenville)
  • Meenakshi Balachandran (Calvary Christian School in Myrtle Beach)
  • Simone Cory (James Island Charter School in Charleston)
  • Teagan Domm (Academic Magnet High School in Charleston)
  • Anna Matson (Aiken High School in Aiken)
  • Pagelyn Smalls (Charleston County School of the Arts in Charleston)
  • Caleb Xiao (Spartanburg Day School in Boiling Springs)
  • Jazmine Vivas Young (Charleston County School of the Arts in Charleston)
Adjudicating the virtual finals will be veteran Poetry Out Loud judges Al Black, Ray McManus, Michelle Reese, and Kimberly J. Simms. Each is an accomplished poet residing in South Carolina dedicated to training the next generation of poets. The winner of the state finals will receive a $200 prize and get to represent South Carolina in the national finals competition for the chance to win a $20,000 first prize. Cancelled last year in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset, the 202 national finals will be held but virtually. Find out more about the national competition here.

Correction

The initial version of this post incorrectly identified Academic Magnet High School in Charleston as "Academy" Magnet High School.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued, and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media.

Jason Rapp

Fourth time a charm for new S.C. Poetry Out Loud champion

Persistence rewarded in final attempt

for immediate release 22 May 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. – She earned her way to the state finals every year of her high school career and in the fourth and final attempt, the payoff finally arrived for a Lancaster student.

Judges selected Andrew Jackson High School senior Taylor Wade as state finals competition champion in the national recitation contest Poetry Out Loud, administered in South Carolina by the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC). Seven other South Carolina high school students competed with Wade in a virtual state finals. The annual competition was scheduled to be held in Columbia on March 14, but was canceled by the SCAC to conform with guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bonita Peeples, Poetry Out Loud coordinator for the SCAC, arranged for a virtual competition. The eight finalists sent videos to be reviewed by the judges: Paul Kaufmann, Darion McCloud, Kimberly Simms, and Dr. Nancy D. Tolson. Wade recited “Dead Butterfly” by Ellen Bass and Edgar Allan Poe’s “Israfel” in preliminary rounds. She and two other students advanced to the final round, where she recited “Adam’s Curse” by William Butler Years and received the four judges’ highest score. In a typical year, Wade would have joined finalists from the other 49 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico in Washington to compete for a $20,000 cash prize at the national finals. In lieu of that competition, the champion of each state that held or will hold a state finals will receive a $1,000 prize. In states where the finals were canceled, the state arts agency will receive $1,000 to either award to a state champion named at a later date or divide among the students who advanced to the state finals.

About Poetry Out Loud

Now in its 14th year, 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 in 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach nearly 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, visit PoetryOutLoud.org.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key 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.

Jason Rapp

Eight high school students reach S.C. Poetry Out Loud finals

State finals to be held March 14 in Columbia


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE COLUMBIA, S.C. – Eight South Carolina high school students reached the March 9 state finals for Poetry Out Loud – an annual, nationwide recitation contest – after regional competitions in Charleston and Spartanburg. The S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the competition to state high schools. In the 2019/2020 school year, around 2,600 students from 21 schools in 12 counties participated. School competition winners competed against students in their region to move on to the state finals. The following eight regional finalists will compete on Saturday, March 14, 2020 at the Richland Library Main Branch in Columbia from 3-5 p.m.:
  • David Jones (Southside High School in Greenville)
  • Rowland Marshall (Wando High School in Charleston)
  • Anna Matson (Aiken High School in Aiken)
  • Jackson Penn (Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology in Longs)
  • Emma Rose Radcliff (Waccamaw High School in Georgetown)
  • Carson Stehling (Charleston County School of the Arts in Charleston)
  • Taylor Wade (Andrew Jackson High School in Lancaster)
  • Emily Yi (Southside High School in Greenville)
This event is free and open to the public. The winner of the state finals will represent South Carolina in the national finals April 27-29, 2020 in Washington. 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.
About Poetry Out Loud Now in its 14th year, 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 in 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach nearly 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, visit PoetryOutLoud.org.
About the South Carolina Arts Commission With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key 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.

State finals of ‘Poetry Out Loud’ competition set

Regional competitions yield eight finalists for March 9 finals

Poetry Out Loud
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Eight South Carolina high school students reached the March 9 state finals for Poetry Out Loud – an annual, nationwide recitation contest – after regional competitions in Charleston and Spartanburg. The S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) coordinates Poetry Out Loud in South Carolina, partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the competition to state high schools. In the 2018/2019 school year, around 3,100 students from 17 schools in 10 counties participated. School competition winners competed against students in their region to move on to the state finals. The following eight regional finalists will compete on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the Richland Library Main Branch in Columbia from 3-5 p.m.:
  • Madalin Shaye Baker (Landrum High School in Landrum)
  • Francis Paul Boscia (Spartanburg Day School in Spartanburg)
  • Lyrical Dream Gist (Boiling Springs High School in Boiling Springs)
  • Brynne Hardman (Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology in Myrtle Beach)
  • Alliyah Jeter (Dorman High School in Roebuck)
  • Sha’Kaila Stewart (Whale Branch Early College High School in Seabrook)
  • Charles Stone Hideshi Urashima (First Baptist School in Charleston)
  • Millie Welbourn (Ashley Hall in Charleston)
This event is free and open to the public. The winner of the state finals will represent South Carolina in the national finals April 29-May 1, 2019 in Washington, D.C. 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. Last year, South Carolina winner Janae Claxton of First Baptist School in Charleston became the first national champion from the Palmetto State.
ABOUT POETRY OUT LOUD Now in its 13th year, 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.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. 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.  

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.