SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Arts & Museums announces the state finals for Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation competition sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. The state finals will be held on March 11, at 7 p.m., in the Vieve Gore Concert Hall in the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts at Westminster College. This event is free and open to the public. The student champion will go to Washington, D.C., April 28-29 to represent Utah at nationals and compete to win a $20,000 scholarship. This year marks Poetry Out Loud’s 10th anniversary, having reached over 2.7 million students at more than 9,500 schools nationwide in the past decade.
Approximately 40 high schools around the state participated in Poetry Out Loud activities (some schools included the entire student body) and competed in school and regional competitions. Regional competitions were held in Brigham City, Centerville, Gunnison, Provo, Roosevelt, St. George, Salt Lake City and South Jordan.
On March 11, students will recite works they selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems. The following students will compete in the finals:
Jensen Martin of Bingham High School, South Jordan
Sadie Merkley of Box Elder High School, Brigham City
Marrisa Konkol of DaVinci Academy, Ogden
Olivia Garcia of Dixie High School, St. George
Devin Glenn of Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, Lindon
Alesha Hurst of North Sanpete High School, Mt. Pleasant
Bella Canada of Treasure Mountain Junior High School, Park City
Sam Eddington of Union High School, Roosevelt
“Poetry Out Loud is one of the highlights of the year for us at the Utah Division of Arts & Museums” says Arts & Museums director Lynnette Hiskey. “These high school students never disappoint in their ability to amaze the judges and the audience. Recognizing their achievements and seeing where they take their talents after high school is incredibly rewarding and their success is not only a credit to them, but also the dedicated educators in Utah.”
The evening will be emceed by KUED’s Ken Verdoia. There will also be an appearance by Utah Poet Laureate Lance Larsen, local rock band Color Animal and student poetry readings by Justin Kennington.
Utah has had five finalists in the national top ten. Last year, state champion Ashlei Havili of American Fork High School represented Utah at the national finals. In 2012, senior MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School took third place in the national finals and received a $5,000 award. She was also invited to return to Washington, D.C., to recite at the National Book Festival and will also judge this year’s state competition. In 2008, Skyline High School senior Madison Niermeyer also placed third at the national competition and received a $5,000 scholarship award. Niermeyer was contacted by noted Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti to congratulate her on her recitation of his poem I Am Waiting.
The 2015 Poetry Out Loud National Finals will be at the Lisner Auditorium, The George Washington University, April 29 (semifinals will take place on April 28). The semifinals and finals will be webcast live at arts.gov.