3/2/2021 1:42:00 AM

Alabama announces Poetry Out Loud State Champion


Alabama announces Poetry Out Loud State Champion
The virtual celebration also recognized original poems addressing social challenges

MONTGOMERY, Ala., (March 2, 2021) — Every year, thousands of high school educators integrate Poetry Out Loud into their curriculum. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. On February 22, Alabama State Council on the Arts and Alabama Arts Alliance hosted a virtual ceremony celebrating 34 students from high schools all over the state who placed regionally in the National Poetry Out Loud Competition, Alabama’s State Original Poetry Competition, and the 2020 Social Challenge Poem Competition.

“Poetry Out Loud is a wonderful example of a partnership between federal, state, and local arts organizations that engages students across Alabama,” said Dr. Elliot Knight, Executive Director of Alabama State Council on the Arts. “We are thankful for the support and leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts and are proud of all our Alabama students who made it to the state finals and participated this year.”

Hosted by Greta Lambert, the state finals ceremony honored all regional winners and their teachers and featured videos of finalists performing powerful recitations of poetry.

“The participants in this year’s Poetry Out Loud represent the best of Alabama’s students, reflecting on and understanding the work of classic poets, and creating their own poetry in response to the contemporary world,” said Dr. Andrew Henley, the Council’s Deputy Director.

First place in the Alabama Poetry Out Loud National Competition went to Soojin Park for her performance of “Say Grace” by Emily Jungmin Yoon. Soojin is a senior at Auburn High School (Teacher, Davis Thompson) and will represent Alabama in the National Finals, happening virtually this May. Samuel Schultz, a junior who competed as an independent student, came in second place. Honorable mentions were awarded to Catherine Jewel Edwards, Emily Yuri Lee, and Shemai’ya Peak.

Alabama is one of the few states that includes an original poetry competition within its state poetry finals. Soojin Park was also selected as the original poetry winner with her poem “ireum.” Second place went to Vivian Gates for “Jacques A Dit.” Honorable mentions in original poetry were awarded to Madison Forman for “Plot Twist” and Taylore Kenty for “Don’t Choose Me.”  

“This was Alabama’s 16th season for Poetry Out Loud. We missed seeing these incredible students in person. Still, their tenacity and ever-amazing voices have continued to break through,” said Diana Green, the Council’s Arts in Education Program Manager.

This year, the state introduced another competition, the 2020 Social Challenge. Students were encouraged to write and recite an original poem addressing any topic relevant to the challenges the world faced in the year 2020. Topics ranged from systemic racism and gun violence to the COVID-19 pandemic. Taylore Kenty, a junior from Ramsay High School (Teacher, Jaqueline Lockhart), won first place for “The Belt.” Soojin Park was awarded second place for “The Invisibles.”

To watch this year’s awards ceremony, visit bit.ly/ALPoetryOutLoud. To view the winning poem recitations, visit bit.ly/POLStateFinalists.

For additional information about this program, please contact Diana Green, Arts in Education Program Manager for Alabama State Council on the Arts, at 334-242-5148 or diana.green@arts.alabama.gov; or Donna Russell, Executive Director, Alabama Arts Alliance at 334-269-1435 or drussell@alartsalliance.org.

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About Alabama State Council on the Arts
The Council on the Arts is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts in Alabama. The Council works to expand and preserve the state's cultural resources by supporting nonprofit arts organizations, schools, colleges, units of local government, and individual artists. Arts programs, assisted by Council grants, have a track record of enhancing community development, education, cultural tourism, and overall quality of life in all regions of the state. The Alabama State Council on the Arts receives an annual appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and additional funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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.

Press contact:
Perri Hubbard
Communications & Public Relations Specialist
334-242-5153
perri.hubbard@arts.alabama.gov