Skip to content
Secondary Content

Tessa Thornley Named Utah Champion in Poetry Out Loud State Finals – 21 March 2016

SALT LAKE CITY —Tessa Thornley of Bear River High School in Garland will represent Utah in the national finals of Poetry Out Loud.

Thornley won the state finals, held March 16 at Westminster College, with her recitations of three poems before a panel of judges. Those poems included “Life In A Love” by Robert Browning, “Aria” by David Barber, and “Very Large Moth” by Craig Arnold.

The national finals will be held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., May 2-4. The winning student receives $20,000. Since 2006, five Utah winners have placed in the national top ten, including third-place winners in 2012 and 2008 who each received $5,000.

Students from approximately 35 Utah high schools participated in Poetry Out Loud in 2016. Regional competitions were held in Brigham City, Gunnison, Provo, St. George, Salt Lake City, and South Jordan prior to the state finals.

Serena Hawatmeh of Juan Diego High School in Draper was named runner-up. Other state finalists included: Devin Glenn, Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, Lindon; Leena Ngo, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City; Parker Pingel, Beaver High School, Beaver;

Lucy Quinn, North Sanpete High School, Mount Pleasant.

“Poetry Out Loud is one of the highlights of the year for us,” Utah Arts & Museum Director Gay Cookson said. “These high school students never disappoint in their ability to amaze the judges and the audience.”

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.