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Poetry Out Loud Students Compete to Represent Utah at National Poetry Competition – 7 March 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Arts & Museums announces the state finals for Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation competition sponsored by The Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Students will recite works selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems. The state champion represents Utah in the national finals in Washington, D.C., May 2-4 and competes for $20,000.

Approximately 35 high schools around the state participated in Poetry Out Loud activities and competed in school and region competitions held in Brigham City, Gunnison, Provo, St. George, Salt Lake City, and South Jordan. The state finals will be on Mar. 16, 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.

Region winners competing at the state level are:
Tessa Thornley, Bear River High School, Brigham City
Parker Pingel, Beaver High School, Beaver High School, Beaver
Serena Hawatmeh, Juan Diego Catholic High School, Draper
Leena Ngo, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City
Devin Glenn, Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, Lindon
Runner- up Lucy Quinn, North Sanpete High School, Mount Pleasant (regional winner, Kate Ellison English of Wasatch Academy, is unable to compete.)

“Poetry Out Loud is one of the highlights of the year for us at the Utah Division of Arts & Museums” said director Gay Cookson. “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 emcee for the evening is KUED’s Ken Verdoia. Utah Poet Laureate Lance Larsen will read, and local musician Bronwen Beecher, the Fiddle Preacher will perform.

Since 2006, five Utah winners have ranked in the national top ten. In 2012, MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School placed third and received a $5,000. She returned to Washington, D.C., to recite at the National Book Festival.  In 2008, Skyline High School senior Madison Niermeyer also placed third and received $5,000. Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote Madison a letter congratulating her recitation of I Am Waiting. Ashlei Havili of American Fork High School, 2014,  and Devon Jones of West Jordan High School, 2015, both received honorable mentions.

The 2016 Poetry Out Loud National Finals convenes at the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, May 3 and 4. The semifinals and finals webcast live may be seen at

Poetry Out Loud, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers across the nation by capitalizing on trends in poetry recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, the spoken word, and theatre into the English classroom. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.