2016 Poetry Out Loud National Finals

Photos by James Kegley

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Group photo of contestants.

At the 2016 Poetry Out Loud National Finals, 53 students from every state; Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands competed for the title of National Champion.

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students stand in a row clapping and holding plaques.

Students compete in the first semifinal competition at Poetry Out Loud.

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 Wide angle of students in a room looking at the camera.

The top nine finalists prepare for the national finals competition.

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the host speaks from a podium

Poetry Out Loud national finals host, poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

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A man in a hat performs on stage.

Hip-hop artist and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon performs at the national finals.

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a young man stands on stage at a microphone with expressive hands

2016 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Ahkei Togun from Virginia.

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a young man wearing a medal around his neck and holding a glass trophy poses with the NEA chairman and Poetry Foundation president

Ahkei Togun with NEA Chairman Jane Chu and Poetry Foundation President Henry Bienen.

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NEA Chairman poses with a young woman holding a glass trophy

NEA Chairman Jane Chu congratulates Maddie Lukomski from South Dakota for winning the Poetry Ourselves category in the spoken category.

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NEA Chairman poses with a young woman holding a glass trophy

NEA Chairman Jane Chu congratulates Rose Horowitz from Maine for winning the Poetry Ourselves category in the written category.

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A line of people pose for a photo. The students wear plaques and hold trophies.

left to right: Poetry Out Loud host Elizabeth Acevedo, judges Alice Quinn, Chris Sarandon, and José Antonio Vadi, Poetry Out Loud National Champion Ahkei Togun from Virginia, third place winner Nicholas Amador from Hawaii, second place winner Marta Palombo from Georgia, judges Jaqueline Woodson and Virgil Suárez, NEA Chairman Jane Chu, and Poetry Foundation President Henry Bienen.