Art Works Blog

Meet Anita Norman, #POL14 National Champion!

You know what they say: in the end there can be only one. And at the end of the two-day 2014 Poetry Out Loud National Finals, that one was Anita Norman of Arlington, Tennessee. With bold, confident recitations of poems by Stanley Kunitz, Robert Hayden, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, the Arlington High School junior earned the top spot out of the approximately 365,000 student-competitors who participated in the program this year. (Ohio's Lake Wilburn took second place, followed by New Jersey's Natasha Simone Vargas.) After Norman's second recitation--Hayden's "Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday"--emcee Neda Ulaby asked what she'd remember most about the experience. Norman replied, "This trumps everything." Norman's winnings include a $20,000 award and $500 for her school to purchase poetry books for its library. And major-league bragging rights, of course.

Want to check out Norman's award-winning skills in action? Here's her recitation of "Let the Light Enter" by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. (Click through for the text of the poem.)

Poetry Out Loud: Recitation by Anita Norman

A partnership among the NEA, the Poetry Foundation, and the state arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Visit to learn more about the competition structure and browse the anthology of poems.



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