2018 Poetry Out Loud National Finals

April 23–25, 2018
Washington, DC

Photos by James Kegley

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Students stand on risers on a stage with a Poetry Out Loud sign behind them.

At the 2018 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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A group of four students smile at the camera.

Poetry Out Loud state champions meet each other at the welcome banquet.

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A man in a hat sits behind a table shaking the hand of a student.

Poet Jamaal May signs copies of his book The Big Book of Exit Strategies for Poetry Out Loud state champions. May was also this year’s Poetry Ourselves judge.

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A group of three students smile at the camera.

Poetry Out Loud state champions meet each other at the welcome banquet.

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Students stand in a line on stage.

Students in the first regional semi-final come on stage to accept their awards.

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A man speaks from a podium next to a line of students on stage.

Host Anderson Wells announces which eight students will move on to the third round at the second semi-final competition.

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Students stand in a line on stage.

Students in the third regional semi-final wait to hear who will advance to the national finals.

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Two young women smile for the camera.

2017 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Samara Elán Huggins (left) was a featured speaker at the Poetry Out Loud Congressional Lunch at the Hart Senate Office Building and is pictured here with 2018 U.S. Virgin Islands Champion Mahlana U. Graham.

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 Nine students stand outside with their arms around one another with one student holding up a Poetry Out Loud sign in the back.

The nine 2018 Poetry Out Loud national finalists before the competition. Clockwise from far left: Matías Coss Hernández (Puerto Rico), Kiara A Jones (Kentucky), Sophia Weinzinger (Arizona), Nicholas Amador (Hawaii), Xiadi Zhai (Massachusetts), Hope Stratman (Nebraska), Janae Claxton (South Carolina), Vera Escaja-Heiss (Vermont), and Maria Modi Tuya (North Dakota).

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 A young man in a grey sweater and glasses stands holding a small glass trophy next to a woman with a black and white striped blouse.

NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Mary Anne Carter presents an award to Gage Gramlick, South Dakota State Champion, who placed first in the spoken category of Poetry Ourselves.

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A young woman in a black dress stands holding a small glass trophy next to a woman with a black and white striped blouse.

NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Mary Anne Carter presents an award to Lauren Haiar, Wyoming State Champion, who placed first in the written category of Poetry Ourselves.

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A woman in a striped dress holds a microphone while a young woman stands speaking in front of another microphone.

National Finals host Elizabeth Acevedo interviews Puerto Rico Champion Matías Coss Hernández at the national finals.

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A young woman wearing a white scarf around her neck speaks into a microphone.

2018 Poetry Out Loud National Champion and South Carolina State Champion Janae Claxton.

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A young man wearing a grey sweater and blazer speaks into a microphone.

2018 Poetry Out Loud second-place winner and Hawaii State Champion Nicholas Amador.

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A young woman wearing a green blouse speaks into a microphone.

2018 Poetry Out Loud third-place winner and Nebraska Champion Hope Stratman.

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A man plays the upright bass next to a woman singing and playing the banjo.

Kaia Kater (right) and Andrew Ryan perform at the National Finals.

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A young woman stands holding a glass trophy in between a man and a woman. Confetti falls around them.

2018 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Janae Claxton with National Endowment for the Arts Senior Deputy Chairman Mary Anne Carter and Poetry Foundation Program Director Stephen Young.

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A group of men and women stand in a line on stage with a Poetry Out Loud sign behind them.

NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Mary Anne Carter; National Assembly of State Arts Agencies CEO Pam Breaux; third place-winner Nicholas Amador; second-place winner Hope Stratman,;National Champion Janae Claxton; Poetry Out Loud judges Virgil Suárez, Dawn Lundy Martin, Robin Coste Lewis, Lavina Jadhwani, and Robert Casper; and Poetry Foundation Program Director Stephen Young.

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A young woman smiles holding a large glass trophy.

2018 Poetry Out Loud National Champion and South Carolina State Champion Janae Claxton.