York County student wins state Poetry Out Loud competition

York County student wins state Poetry Out Loud competition

Congratulations to Joshua Mugabe, the 2015 South Carolina Poetry Out Loud champion! Mugabe, a senior at the York Preparatory Academy in Rock Hill, advances to the national finals April 28-29 in Washington, D.C., where he competes for a $20,000 scholarship.

Joshua Mugabe

Joshua Mugabe competes in the Poetry Out Loud state finals.

Mugabe was one of nine regional finalists who competed at the Columbia Museum of Art during the state finals on March 14. 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. Four students were named state finalists and recited a third poem to determine the winner.

As the state champion, Mugabe receives $200 and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the national finals. The York Preparatory Academy library also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

Jamie Montagne (above, far right), a sophomore at Spartanburg Day School (Spartanburg County), was named state runner-up. She receives $100, and her school library receives a $200 poetry book stipend. Amani Huell (above, second from left), a senior at Waccamaw High School (Horry County), was the third state finalist, and Autumn Smith (above, far left), a senior at Goose Creek High School (Berkeley County), was the fourth state finalist.

Competition judges were author and poet Samuel Amadon, an instructor in the MFA program at the USC; author, poet and current S.C. Arts Commission Poetry Fellow Hastings Hensel, a lecturer at Coastal Carolina University; author and Poet Laureate for the city of Columbia Ed Madden, associate professor of English at USC; and author Qiana Whitted, associate professor of English and African-American Studies at USC.

The South Carolina Arts Commission works with several partners to produce Poetry Out Loud: the Columbia Museum of Art, the “Speaking of Schools” radio program, hosted by Doug Keel and supported by the South Carolina Department of Education, and Hub City Writers Project (Region 1); the town of Blythewood, Bravo Blythewood and the University of South Carolina Sumter: Division of Arts and Letters (Region 2); and the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences (Region 3).

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.

Find more information online.