Final Contest for the Title of National Poetry Out Loud Champion on May 4, 2016

High school students compete for $20,000 award
A teenage girl in a black dress speaks at a microphone with a Poetry Out Loud sign behind her.
Texas State Champion Madison Heggins advances to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC. Photo by James Kegley
WHAT: Nine student finalists representing high schools from Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Puerto Rico, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia match their skills in reciting classic and contemporary poetry in a contest for the title of National Poetry Out Loud Champion and a $20,000 award. Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation.   WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, May 4, 7:00 pm - 9:15 pm ET, Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, 730 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC. Not in DC?  Poetry fans nationwide can take part in the event via a live, one-time-only webcast at WHO: Speakers and participants are host, Elizabeth Acevedo, award-winning poet. Guest judges include Alice Quinn, executive director of the Poetry Society of America; authors Jacqueline Woodson and Virgil Suárez; playwright and poetry slam champion José Antonio Vadi; and actor Chris Sarandon. The featured performer is hip-hop artist and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon. 2016 Poetry Out Loud National Finalists:
  • Georgia State Champion Marta Palombo, Cambridge High School, Alpharetta, GA
  • Hawaii State Champion Nicholas Amador, Punahou School, Honolulu, HI
  • Louisiana State Champion Kyla Rose Bates, Zachary High School, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Maryland State Champion Sharese Acheampong, New Town High School, Owings Mills, MD  
  • Montana State Champion Savannah Smith, Helena High School, Helena, MT
  • Puerto Rico State Champion Wenmimareba Klobah Collins, University High School, San Juan, PR
  • Texas State Champion Madison Heggins, Lewisville High School, Lewisville, TX
  • Virginia State Champion Ahkei Togun, Tallwood High School, Virginia Beach, VA
  • West Virginia State Champion Neely Seams, Greenbrier East High School, Lewisburg, WV
INTERVIEWS: Pre-event interviews with the nine national finalists are at 6:00 – 6:30 pm. Post-event photos and interviews with finalists, judges, and speakers take place onstage, 9:15 – 9:45 pm. OTHER:  The Poetry Out Loud Semifinals and National Finals are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. Both events will offer ASL interpretation. For more information call 202-682-5606 or visit WEBCAST: Watch the finals through a closed captioned, one-time-only webcast at PHOTOS/VIDEO: Photos and video of #POL16 Semifinals and Finals will be available at this link. FOLLOW: Poetry Out Loud is on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POL16.  CONTACT: Media must RSVP to Sally Gifford, NEA Public Affairs, 202-682-5606 or Video crews covering the Wednesday night National Finals must arrive by 6:45 pm to reserve a space. No flash photography.


NEA Contact: Sally Gifford, 202-682-5606 Poetry Foundation Contact: Elizabeth Burke-Dain, 773-368-4928