2019 Poetry Out Loud National Finals

April 29–May 1, 2019
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 2019 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 three students smile at the camera whole holding a Poetry Out Loud poster.

Poetry Out Loud state champions Maggie Odom from Hawaii, Belise Nishimwe from Oregon, and Jesca Gilbert from Colorado at the welcome banquet.

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A man stands behind a table speaking with a student.

Poet Kyle Dargan signs copies of his book Anagnorisis for Poetry Out Loud state champions. Dargan was also this year’s Poetry Ourselves judge.

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Students sit in chairs in a theater.

Poetry Out Loud state champions wait for their semi-final to begin.

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Students stand in a line on stage.

State champions in the second regional semi-final come on stage to accept their awards.

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A man kneels on a stage speaking with a young man standing in front of the stage.

Judge Gavin Lawrence speaks with Florida state champion Zhaedyn Hodge Sigars after the second semi-final.

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Three students stand in a line on stage with other students behind them.

State champions Vera Escaja-Heiss from Vermont, Rose E. Hansen from Massachusetts, and João Rodrigues Victor from Maine learn they will be advancing to the national finals.

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A woman, man, and young woman stand in front of a Poetry Out Loud backdrop.

New York state champion Chika Brown (right) with her teacher Lydia Esslinger and Representative Thomas Suozzi (NY-3) at the Congressional lunch.

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Alt: A man in a suit speaks at a podium while people sit in chairs at tables listening.

Representative Scott Perry (PA-10) speaks to the 2019 state finalists at the Congressional lunch.

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A young woman speaks at a podium.

2018 Poetry Out Loud national champion Janae Claxton speaks to the 2019 state finalists at the Congressional lunch.

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a group of students stand together outside. One student holds a Poetry Out Loud sign over her head.

The 2019 Poetry Out Loud national finalists before the competition begins. Clockwise from top left: Massachusetts State Champion Rose E. Hansen, Maine State Champion João Rodrigues Victor, Illinois State Champion Scottlynn Ernestine Ballard, South Dakota State Champion Gage Gramlick, Kansas State Champion Khadija Ceesay, Minnesota State Champion Isabella Callery, Vermont State Champion Vera Escaja-Heiss, Hawaii State Champion Maggie Odom, and Georgia State Champion Alejandro J. Campo.

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A young woman holds a small glass trophy next to a woman in a black jacket.

NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter presents an award to Daeja Loew, Wisconsin State Champion, who placed first in the spoken category of Poetry Ourselves.

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 A young man holds a small glass trophy next to a woman in a black jacket.

NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter presents an award to Evan Reynolds, Connecticut State Champion, who placed first in the written category of Poetry Ourselves.

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A woman holds a microphone while a young man stands smiling in front of another microphone.

National Finals host Elizabeth Acevedo interviews South Dakota State Champion Gage Gramlick at the national finals.

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A woman and man sit on a stage playing guitars and singing.

Musicians Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear perform at the national finals.

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 A young woman speaks into a microphone while standing in front of a large screen with the Poetry Out Loud logo on it.

2019 Poetry Out Loud national champion Isabella Callery from Minnesota at the national finals.

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A young woman speaks into a microphone while standing in front of a large screen with the Poetry Out Loud logo on it.

2018 Poetry Out Loud second-place winner Scottlynn Ernestine Ballard from Illinois at the national finals.

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A young man speaks into a microphone while standing in front of a large screen with the Poetry Out Loud logo on it.

2019 Poetry Out Loud third-place winner Alejandro J. Campo from Georgia at the national finals.

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A man and a woman stand on either side of a young woman holding up a glass trophy while confetti falls around them.

Poetry Foundation President Henry Bienen, 2019 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Isabella Callery, and National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter at the national finals.

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A line of people stand on stage, surrounded by confetti. Three young people in the center of the line hold glass trophies.

Poetry Out Loud national finalists Alejandro J. Campo (third place), Isabella Callery (first place), and Scottlynn Ernestine Ballard (second place) with the national finals judges (l-r): Randy Reinholz, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Mary Rand Hess, Jericho Brown, and Hieu Minh Nguyen.

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 A young woman holds a glass trophy in one hand while looking at the camera.

2019 Poetry Out Loud national champion Isabella Callery.