Final Contest for the Title of 2019 National Poetry Out Loud Champion on May 1, 2019

High School Students Compete for $20,000 Award
Photos of the top nine Poetry Out Loud finalists
WHAT: Nine student finalists representing high schools from Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Vermont match their skills in reciting classic and contemporary poetry in a contest for the title of 2019 Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a $20,000 award. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and is administered together with the state arts agencies in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More information about the 2019 National Finals is available here. Poetry Out Loud is on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud, @NEAarts, and @PoetryFound, #POL19. WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, May 1, 7:00 pm–9:15 pm ET, Lisner Auditorium, the George Washington University, 730 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. In addition, there will be a live, one-time-only webcast at WHO: Hosted by poet, author, and 2018 National Book Award recipient Elizabeth Acevedo. Guest judges include poets Jericho Brown, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Mary Rand Hess, and Hieu Minh Nguyen, and theater director Randy Reinholz. The featured performance is by Kansas City-based mother/son duo Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear. 2019 Poetry Out Loud National Finalists:
  • Georgia State Champion Alejandro J. Campo (Flowery Branch High School)
  • Hawaii State Champion Maggie Odom (Le Jardin Academy)
  • Illinois State Champion Scottlynn Ernestine Ballard (Edwardsville High School)
  • Kansas State Champion Khadija Ceesay (Olathe South High School)
  • Maine State Champion João Rodrigues Victor (Lewiston High School)
  • Massachusetts State Champion Rose E. Hansen (Norwell High School)
  • Minnesota State Champion Isabella Callery (Arcadia Charter School)
  • South Dakota State Champion Gage Gramlick (Lincoln High School)
  • Vermont State Champion Vera Escaja-Heiss (South Burlington High School)
INTERVIEWS: Pre-event interviews with the nine national finalists are available between 5:30–6:30 pm ET. Post-event photos and interviews take place onstage, 9:15–9:45 pm. Contact Liz Auclair at by 5:00 pm to arrange an interview. PHOTOS: Photos (credit James Kegley) and video of the nine finalists are available for media use at this link . Email for downloadable video files. CONTACT: Media must send a request for coverage to Elizabeth Auclair, NEA Public Affairs, 202-682-5744 or by 5 pm tonight. Video crews covering the Wednesday night national finals must arrive by 6:45 pm to reserve a space. No flash photography.


Liz Auclair (NEA),, 202-682-5744 Sarah Whitcher (Poetry Foundation),, 312-799-8016