Art Works Blog

Chatting with the Champ

2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Kristen Dupard recites during the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on May 15, 2012. Photo by James Kegley

Kristen Dupard has had quite a busy May! Not only did she go stanza a stanza---so to speak---with 52 other state champions to win top honors at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, but in the week since she's gone from high schooler to newly minted high school graduate. We caught up with the champ via e-mail---on the day of her graduation!---to find out her thoughts on Poetry Out Loud and what she has planned next. In her own words, here's Mississippi Poetry Out Loud State Champion and 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Kristen Dupard...

It feels really great and honorable to be the National Champion of Poetry Out Loud. I'm also so blessed to have all of the amazing opportunities that come with being the champion. I truly enjoyed every second in D.C. for the National Finals! One of my favorite highlights of the trip was when I was able to meet and take a picture with Senator Thad Cochran and Senator Roger Wicker.

I got involved in Poetry Out Loud through my Forensics coach Stacy Howell. One day I walked in her class and she showed me the Poetry Out Loud anthology, and it spiraled from there. I must say that poetry enables me to say what's really on my mind. Before I got involved in the program I thought Poetry Out Loud was a little on the bland side of things.  But I must say that over the past three years I have learned so much about great poets and poems that I wouldn't have learned if I was not involved in the program. Overall, I feel that Poetry Out Loud is one of the best programs out there.

My advice for anyone who is involved in the program is to take advantage of this opportunity and pick poems that inspire you. If you do these things not only will you inspire others, but you will continue to keep this program alive. Although all of the poems I chose resonate with me, I must say "What Work Is" by Philip Levine truly sets itself apart from the others. I love this poem because for me it describes an inner struggle that I'm sure everyone can relate to.

So what’s next? My future plans are somewhat endless. I will be attending the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. I plan to double-major in Nursing and Broadcasting. After I obtain my undergraduate degree, I plan to attend medical school and become a pediatrician.  Once I have my medical degree I plan to become a health correspondent for MSNBC or CNN News.

Want to hear more from Kristen? Check out her conversation with PBS NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown. Visit the Poetry Out Loud website to learn more about the program. You can also visit arts,gov to hear recitations and see photos from past finals competitions.


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