Poetry Out Loud Finals



ladies and gentlemen welcome to the 2018 Poetry Out Loud national finals competition please silence all cell phones and other electronic devices we ask that you refrain from flash photography or entering the aisles to take any type of photographs or video recordings during the recitations tonight's program will include American sign language interpretation on the right side of the stage ladies and gentlemen your host for this evening competition writer Elizabeth Acevedo good evening everyone let's give a round of applause for our DJ stylist and now our 2018 Poetry Out Loud state champions [Applause] representing Alabama Reyna bursar representing Alaska janya to me representing Arizona Sophia vine singer representing Arkansas Madeline Windell representing California Alexis a da Rangel on Ragusa representing Colorado Hannah Alexander representing Connecticut Jasmine Kabira representing Delaware Sam mcGarvie representing the District of Columbia Felicity Ryan representing Florida Natalie shamak resentiment lyric Turner representing Hawaii Nikolas Amador representing Idaho Anthony Plummer representing Illinois wince engaged representing Indiana Joshua Fischer representing Iowa Sarah joy boiler representing Kansas Bella LaRue representing Kentucky Kiara Jones representing Louisiana dejeuner Richardson representing Maine Alan Mongo representing Maryland Kayla Turner representing Massachusetts shawties I representing Michigan grace Carver representing Minnesota drill Monday representing Mississippi annaclaire Franklin representing Missouri Shakira cross representing Nebraska hopes Trotman representing Nevada gray hunt representing New Hampshire Eleni Swilly Otis representing New Jersey Breanna Sena representing New Mexico Zoe Sloane Kalman representing New York SMA Sabathia representing North Carolina Danny Cohen representing North Dakota Maria Modi to you representing Ohio Caroline Delaney representing Oklahoma Kristine Caroline ghetto representing Oregon Sarah Calvin Stupa representing Pennsylvania Brooke Helen are representing Puerto Rico Mattie echos representing Rhode Island Steven Rosario representing South Carolina janae Claxton representing South Dakota gage Gramlich representing Tennessee Olivia grace Crowley representing Texas Ariel Lin Warren representing the United States Virgin Islands Milan agree representing Lita Rebecca Keck representing Vermont Zera s kaha hai representing Virginia Ram Khanna representing Washington Isaac Liu representing West Virginia Jordan Marshall representing Wisconsin miles Anthony Walker representing Wyoming Lauren hire these are the 2018 Poetry Out Loud state champions you can do better than that show them some love [Applause] good job audience I like you all you're doing good please welcome to the stage our distinguished judges for this evenings competition head of the poetry and literature Center at the Library of Congress Robert Kasper chicago-based theater director levena Gidwani poet and National Book Award winner Robin cost Lewis poet essayist and professor dawn Lundy Martin author professor and poet virgil Suarez please welcome National Endowment for the Arts senior deputy chairman Mary Ann Carter and Poetry Foundation program director Stephen young all right friends family educators this is your opportunity to take a photo if you would like to if you need something for the gram for snapchat whatever it is you're gonna do the school newsletter you got 20 seconds cuz after that there will be no photos throughout this event so go ahead do your thing we got a little music while it happens five four three two great job y'all good job let's give the 2018 Poetry Out Loud state champions one more rounds of applause National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu unfortunately could not be here with us tonight but here representing the NEA is their senior deputy chairman Mary Ann Carter please welcome Mary Ann good evening and welcome to the 2018 national finals of Poetry Out Loud we are here at the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of the George Washington University in Washington DC we are also joined by poetry enthusiasts across the country who are watching on our live webcast from the National Endowment for the Arts website arts gov I invite you to join the conversation also on twitter by using the hashtag pol 18 and pol 18 that's what tonight is all about it's conversing with poetry with each other in new and unexpected ways you should see how they communicate with each other and the good friendships that have already been made today today yesterday and since they got here on Monday we know that poetry can be read as words but this is usually a solitary act but it can bring any reader meaning and joy but it's something altogether different when we hear someone recite a poem especially someone young and we understand that poem in new fresh and fuller ways we hear nuances and rhythms and meaning that we might have missed if we had read these verses alone by ourselves poetry recitation can also be electrifying and we are bonded together as an audience when we experience a magic of a well performed poem this is one of the reasons so many cultures have had such strong traditions of oral poetry from the excuse me from the epic poems of age increase to the canta doors or oral poets of Brazil to the cowboy poets of the American West these traditions have embraced poetry as a social artform and bring us together as neighbors friends communities and as new friends as these young students can tell you so I want to thank each of our state champions for allowing us to experience the power of the spoken-word that they've given us their hard work has brought us together tonight as a community and given us fuller access to a poems essence I hope that each of our champions in all 300,000 students who participated in Poetry Out Loud this year have also developed their own personal relationship with poetry one that will sustain them through the years to come of course none of what we celebrate tonight would be possible without our program partners thank you to Henri Benin Stephen young Justine haka from the Poetry Foundation and our good partners in this endeavor poetry Poetry Foundation helped us get Poetry Out Loud started 13 years ago and they have been critical partners and great partners in the program's continued growth thank you to the mid-atlantic arts foundation especially executive director Teresa Colvin and director of External Affairs Karen Newell for giving us crucial support to strengthen Poetry Out Loud this is Teresa's first poetry outloud as executive director and Teresa we look forward to many years to come with you so thank you thank thank you also to our partners at the state arts agencies they're the ones on the ground they work to expand poetry out loud they get more students involved they go to more schools we couldn't expand the program like we have without them so thank you every single state we appreciate that and finally I want to acknowledge the teachers the family members the friends who have supported not just these state champions but the state champions from the past 13 years in their journey to the national finals so before we begin with the Poetry Out Loud we have awards for the poetry ourselves component of Poetry Out Loud we launched poetry ourselves two years ago as a way to celebrate the many different ways creativity can be expressed through poetry all of our state champions were invited to submit a written or spoken poem that they themselves had composed these poems have been judged independently from their recitation by award-winning poet Jamal Mei it is now my pleasure to announce the 2018 poetry ourselves awards students if you hear your name please come down to the stage right here to accept your award the runner-up in the written category is and I hope I get this right Shah jees I from Massachusetts I hope I didn't mess that name up too much good good and the winner in the written category is Lauren hire from Wyoming and the runner-up in the spoken category is Rayna beaver sir from Alabama [Applause] and the winner in the spoken category is gage Gramlich from South Dakota [Applause] congratulations to our poetry ourselves winners now I'd like to reintroduce our host for the evening Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth is an award-winning poet and National Poetry Slam champion she holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland she's a New York Times bestselling author for her young adult novel the poet X which debuted this past March please join me in welcoming your host Elizabeth Acevedo [Applause] I'm so honored to be here with you all tonight I myself was in high school when I first began my commitment to writing poetry and I'm glad I did since it changed the course of my life my novel which just came out this March the poet X is about a teen finding her voice through poetry competition it's a book about owning one's body while being on stage it's a book about taking up space and speaking up and I wrote it because I'm often meeting young people who remind me of the power of carrying text in the body of memorizing a poem whether one's own or someone else's and how that can be a transformational moment all of a sudden when we do that we realize we don't need anything but ourselves to manifest stories and legacies to pay a maje to remind ourselves of resilience and hope this is my third year hosting this competition and I'm always hey you better clap it up I like always block out this week in April I'm like Poetry Out Loud is happening this is my third week hosting this campus my third week my third year hosting this competition and I'm always honored to be here because the young people who touched this stage remind me that the embodiment of poetry can change us all thank you for having me again and I can't wait to share this evening with you yesterday all of the state champions competed in three semi-final rounds the three students who scored highest in each semi-final a total of nine students will compete tonight for the national championship which includes a $20,000 award and the opportunity to present at both the National Book Festival and the International storytelling Center's annual festival there will be three rounds of recitation the students will recite in a predetermined random order and that order will be honored for all three rounds after the first two rounds we'll have an awards presentation for all of our finalists and then announced the top three contestants y'all good got it those three students will return to recite one more poem each those scores will be added to the scores for tonight's first two rounds to determine this year's national champion contestants will be evaluated on six criteria physical presence voice and articulation evidence of understanding dramatic appropriateness accuracy and overall performance overall performance and accuracy are worth more than the other categories all right are y'all ready here we go our very first contestant representing North Dakota Maria MODY Julia Maria is from Fargo North Dakota and is a senior at Fargo North High School authors prayer by Ilya Kaminsky if I speak for the dead I must leave this animal of my body I must write the same poem over and over for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender if I speak for them I must walk on the edge of myself I must live as a blind man who runs through rooms without touching the furniture yes I live I can cross the streets asking what year is it I can dance in my sleep and laugh in front of the mirror even sleep is a prayer lord I will praise your madness and in a language not mine speak of music that wakes us music in which we move for whatever I say is a kind of petition and the darkest days I praise [Applause] represents in Vermont Veera is kaha highs from South Burlington Vermont Veera is a junior at South Burlington High School spanglish potato la Fiera with the stoy grando Spanglish by cultural systems scientific lexicographical intertextual integrations to expressions existentially wired to dominant languages continentally a broth on dosa in colloquial combate en lasa Sarah's then soil imperio Spanglish emergence control Pandya a sobre territorial bilingual las novellas mexicanas mixing with radio rock and roll con demented Kathina lore immigrant migrant nays Ole Miss pronouncements by Rafa she's McDowell's social club hip-hop rito street salsa corner soul in mix Toronto Spanish pop foreign doula standard English classroom with computer technicalities Spanglish is literally perfect Spanglish is ethnically snobbish Spanglish is got a holy intelligence yeah which u.s. slang do you speak [Applause] representing Massachusetts Shari's I shaadi hails from Boston Massachusetts where she is in the 12th grade at Boston Latin School the world is too much with us by William Wordsworth the world is too much with us late and soon getting and spending we lay waste our powers little we see in nature that is ours we have given our hearts away a sordid boon this see the Bears her bosom to the moon the winds that will be howling all ours and our up gathered now like sleeping flowers for this for everything we are out of tune it moves us not great god I'd rather be a pagan suckled in a Creed outworn so might I standing on this Pleasant Lea have glimpses that would make me less forlorn have sight of Proteus rising from the sea or here old Triton though his readed whore representing Puerto Rico Mattia cause Hernandez Matias joins us from San Juan Puerto Rico where he is a freshman at the University of Puerto Rico high school the Conqueror worm by Edgar Allan Poe lote is a gala night within the lonesome latter years an angel throng be wing to be tight in veils and drowned in tears sit in a theater to see a play of hopes and fears while the orchestra breathes fitfully the music of the spheres minds in the form of God on high mutter and mumble low and hither and thither fly mere puppets they who come and go at bidding a vast formless thing that shift the scenery to and fro flapping from out their Condor wings invisible whoa that motley drama Oh be sure it shall not be forgot with its Phantom chased forevermore by a crowd that sees it not through a circle that ever returneth in to the self-same spot and much of madness and more of sin and horror the soul of the plot but see amid the mimic route a crawling shape intrude a blood-red thing that rides from out the scenic solitude it writes it arrives with mortal pangs the minds become its food and Sarah sobbing vermin fangs and human gore imbued out-out are the lights out all and over each quivering form the curtain a funeral Paul comes down with the rush of a storm while the angels all paladin when uprising unveiling affirm that the play is the tragedy man and its hero the conquer [Applause] represents in Nebraska hope Stratman from Omaha Nebraska hope is a senior at VJ and Angela Scott Catholic High School at last the new arriving by Gabrielle Calvo caress II like the horn you played in Catholic school the city will open its mouth and cry out don't worry about nothing don't mean no thing it will leave you stunned as a fighter with his eyes swelled shut who's told he won the whole damn purse it will feel better than any floor that's risen up to meet you it will rise like Easter bread golden and familiar in your grandmother's hands she'll come back heaven having been too far from home to hold her oh it will be beautiful every girl will ask you to dance and the boys won't kill you for it shake your head dance until your bones clatter what a prize you are what a lucky sack of stars [Applause] representing Hawaii Nikolas Amador Nikolas is a senior at Punahou school in Hawaii snow day by Billy Collins today we woke up to a revolution of snow it's white flag waving over everything the landscape vanished not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness and beyond these windows the government buildings smothered schools and libraries buried the post office lost under the noiseless drift the paths of trains softly blocked the world fallen under this falling in awhile I will put on some boots and step out like someone walking in water and the dog will porpoise through the drifts and I will shake a laden branch sending a cold shower down on us both but for now I am a willing prisoner in this house a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow that will make a pot of tea and listen to the plastic radio on the counter as glad as anyone to hear the news that the kiddy Korner school is closed the dingdong school closed the all aboard children school closed the hi-ho nursery school closed along with some will be delighted to hear the toadstools school the little school little sparrows nursery school little stars preschool peas and carrots day school the Tom Thumb Child Center all closed and clap your hands for peanuts play school so this is where the children hide all day these are the nests where they let her and draw where they put on their bright miniature jackets all darting and cool and sliding all but the few girls whispering by the fence and now I am listening hard in the grandiose silence of the snow trying to hear what those three girls are plotting what riot is afoot which small queen is about to be brought down representing Kentucky Kiara Jones from Elizabethtown Kentucky Kyra's in the 12th grade at Elizabethtown High School passing by toy dairy Cody a professor invites me to his black Lit class they're reading Larson's passing one of the black students says sometimes light-skinned blacks think they can fool other blacks but I can always tell looking right through me after I tell them I am black I asked the class was I passing when I was just sitting here before I told you a white woman shakes her head desperately as if I had deliberately deceived her she keeps examining my face then turning away as if she hopes I'll disappear why presume passing is based on what I leave out and not what she fills in and once seen in the book in a restaurant she's passing though no one checked her at the door hey you black my father who looked white told me the story every year when he'd go to get his driver's license the man at the window filling out the form would ask white or black pencil boys without looking up my father wouldn't pass but he might use silence to trap a devil when he didn't speak the man would look up at my father's face what did he write my father quizzed me represents in South Carolina Junaid Claxton janay is a senior at First Baptist School in Charleston South Carolina the gaff by CK Williams one if that someone who's me yet not me yet who judges me is always with me as he is shouldn't he have been there when I said so long ago that thing I said if he who rakes me with such not trivial shame for minor sins now were there then shouldn't he have warned me he'd even now devastate me for my unpardonable affront I'm a child vignette already I've composed this conscience beast who carries me is there anything else I can say with certainty about who I was except that I that he could already draw from infinitesimally shion's complex chords of remorse and orchestrate ever undiminished retribution from the hapless rest of myself to the son of some friends of my parents has died and my parents paying their call take me along and I'm sent out with the dead boy's brother and some others to play we're joking around and some words come to my mind which to my amazement are said how do you know when you can laugh when somebody dies your brother dies is what said and the others go quiet the backyard goes quiet everyone stares and I want to know now why that someone in me who's me yet not me let me say it shouldn't he have told me the contrition cycle would from then be ever upon me it didn't matter that I'd really only wanted to know how grief ends and when three I could hear the boys mother sobbing inside then stopping sobbing than stopping was the end of her grief already there had her someone in her told her it would end was her someone in her kinder to her not tearing at her as mine did still does me for guessing grief Sunday ends is that why her sobbing stops sometimes she didn't laugh though or I never heard her how do you know when you can laugh why couldn't someone have been there in me not just to accuse me but to explain the kids were playing again I was playing I didn't hear anything more from inside the way now sometimes what's in me is silent – and sometimes though never really forgets [Applause] representing Arizona Sophia Weininger Sophia's from Flagstaff Arizona and is a junior at Coconino high school hysteria by dionisio D Martinez for onna Menendez it only takes one night with the wind on its knees to imagine Carl Sandburg unfolding a map of Chicago puzzled then walking the wrong way the lines and a space are hard to read I alternate between the TV or a plastic surgeon is claiming that every facial expression causes wrinkles and the newspaper I picture the surgeon reading the lines on Sandburg face lines that would have made more sense if the poet had been say a tree growing in a wind orchard maybe he simply smiled too much I'm reading about the all-star game thinking that maybe Sandburg saw the white socks of 1919 I love American newspapers the way each section is folded independently and believes it owns the world there's this brief item in the International pages the Chinese government has posted signs in Tiananmen Square forbidding laughter I'm sure the plastic surgeon would approve he'd say the Chinese will look young much longer their faces unnaturally smooth but what I see no bow no photograph accompanies the story is laughter bursting inside them I go back to the sports section and to close up of a rookie in mid-swing his face keeping all the wrong emotions in check when I read I bite my lower lip habits the plastic surgeon would probably call Cosmetic heresy because it accelerates the aging process I think of Carl Sandburg and the White Sox I think of wind in Tiananmen Square how a country deprived of laughter ages invisibly I think of the great walls of North America each of them a grip on some outfield like a rookies hands around a bat who when the wind is against him I bite my lower lip again I want to learn to think an American to believe that a headline is a fact and all stories are suspect [Applause] that concludes our first round wasn't that amazing I kept missing my cue to come out because they were just so good I'm like word word that was good it's now my pleasure to introduce the program director of the Poetry Foundation Stephen young Thank You Liz and Thank You NEA and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation on behalf of Henry beenen and the entire Poetry Foundation let me congratulate this nice finalists and indeed all the state champions and their families friends teachers and arts councils who support them for an organization dedicated to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture as the Poetry Foundation is Poetry Out Loud is an immensely important and gratifying program and I think you can see why it is what it is that once personal as students explore and memorize poems that speak to their souls in public as they recite them before family classmates and tonight an entire nation oh did I forget to mention judges yep they're here too but I wouldn't want to trade places with them and I'm sure the poems you're hearing are most vigorously present to all of their senses when poetry is alive on our tongues playing in our ears and lighting our imaginations it brings us together not merely as an audience but as thinking feeling compassionate fellow human beings Walt Whitman who celebrates his 200th birthday next year famously wrote I celebrate myself and sing myself and what I assume you shall assume for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you we belong to one another all of us always in the past in the present and through the voices of these gifted students in the future no matter the outcome may each of you with Langston Hughes hold fast to dreams good luck to everyone [Applause] thank you Steve and now right into the second round each contestant will perform another poem in the same order first up represents in North Dakota Maria Modi – yeah [Applause] the waking by Theodore Roth key I wake to sleep and take my waking slow I feel my fate and what I cannot fear I learn by going where I have to go we think by feeling what is there to know I hear my being dance from ear to ear I wake to sleep and take my waking slow of though so close beside me which are you god bless the ground I shall walk softly there and learn by going where I have to go light takes the tree but who can tell us how the lowly worm climbs up a winding stair I wake to sleep and take my waking slow great nature has another thing to do to you and me so take the lively air and lovely learn by going where to go this shaking keeps me steady I should know what falls away is always and is near I wake to sleep and take my waking slow I learn by going where I have to go [Applause] so the second round is one of my favorite rounds because I get to chat with the contestants after they're done reciting were you good good yeah you feel good yeah awesome I'm glad so I have a question for you okay and I heard you got him ahead of time so I'm gonna flip it okay if you could be famous or something everybody in the world knows you for this one thing what would it be it would be an actress yeah yeah tell us a little bit more about that do you want to be an actress now yeah yeah do theater school I love theater yeah I I really love performing and reading plays recently I read fences by August Wilson and so good yes awesome well Maria it was such a pleasure to hear you and thank you so much for like chatting with me thank you very much give it up for Maria representing Vermont Veera is cajas I [Applause] remember I remember by Thomas hood I remember I remember the house where I was born the little window where the Sun came peeping in at morn he never came a went too soon or brought too long a day but now I often wish the night had borne my breath away I remember I remembered the roses red and white the violets and the lily cups those flowers made of light the lilacs were the Robin built and where my brother said the laburnum on his birthday the tree is living yet I remember I remember where I was used to swing and thought the air must rush as fresh – swallows on the wing my spirit flew in feathers then that is so heavy now and summer pools could hardly cool the fever on my brow I remember I remember the fur trade dark and hi I used to think their sunder tops were close against the sky it was a childish ignorant but now tis little joy to know i'm farther off from heaven than when I was a boy [Applause] hey Veera are you feeling you good good awesome so Veera I don't know if you heard in my bio I recently roll a novel for teens and I'm not just saying that to plug my book y'all so I become super nosy on what teens are reading because now I'm like are you reading my book no what are you reading then right and though what I'm curious about is what is one of your favorite books and why and it doesn't have to be a teen novel just any book that if you're like this is the only thing I could take on a desert island I want to read this forever I would have to say any Sharon Creech book those are great because she has a great variety she also has some poetry books out there so yeah she writes in verse very cool she has fantastic books do ya got a good recommendation tonight give it up for vo yah yah representing Massachusetts shoddy Zhai degrees of gray in Phillipsburg by Richard Hugo you might come here Sunday on a whim say your life broke down the last good kiss you had was years ago you walk these streets laid out by the insane past hotels that didn't last bars that did the tortured try of local drivers to accelerate their lives only churches my capita a jail turned 70 this year the only prisoner is always in not knowing what he's done the principle supporting business now his rage hatred of the various Gray's the mountain sends hatred of the mill the silver bill repeal the best liked girls who leave each year for Butte one good restaurant and bars can't wipe the boredom out the 1907 boom eight going silver mines a dance floor built on Springs all memory resolves itself in gays in panoramic green you know the cattle eat or two stacks high above the town two dead Coombes the huge mill in collapse for 50 years that won't fall finally down isn't this your life that ancient kiss still burning out your eyes isn't this defeat so accurate the church bell simply seems a pure announcement ring and no one comes don't empty houses ring or magnesium and scorn sufficient to support a town not just Phillipsburg but towns of towering blondes good jazz and booze the world will never let you have until the town you came from dies inside say no to yourself the old man 20 when the jail was built still laughs although his lips collapse someday soon he sends I'll go to sleep and not wake up you tell him and know you're talking it to yourself the car that brought you here still runs the money you buy lunch with no matter where its mind is silver and the girl who serves your food is under and her red hair lights hi shadi hi you good yep awesome so I want to talk about words right which is what you've been engaging in all night but a little bit different so I have this thing where if I'm like writing a tweet or an essay there are certain words that I always want to use like this is my favorite thing to use at the time do you have a word that you're obsessed with that's like your favorite word whatever you're writing you're trying to sneak it in even if it doesn't make sense I think that word for me is probably empathy I think it describes a lot of the human experience and it's something that a lot of us try to embody and are you able to sneak that word into like most of your tweets so I try to obsessively look I saw do they're doing a good work [Applause] representing Puerto Rico Mattia cause Anandi's Spanglish by tato la Fiera puede Toa creando Spanglish by cultural systems scientific lexicographical intertextual integrations to expressions existentially wired to dominant languages continentally avarice and Jose in colloquial combate en lasa Sara's del soil imperio Spanglish emerges control Pandya has over a territory or bilingual la noel Americana's mixing with radio rock and roll con demented cocina lor immigrant / me and Nestle miss pronouncements baraja team a day or social club hip-hop Prieto Street salsa corner soul and mix – Rondo Spanish pop farandula standard English classroom with computer technicalities Spanglish is literally perfect Spanglish is ethnically snobbish Spanglish is got a holy Intelligencia which u.s. slang do you speak [Applause] hold on you got to show me that moon how do you do it so I want to know about who is your biggest influence okay Wow sweet question yeah huge one I want to know so I would say Pedro Pedro Pedro pn3 is a cell phone often on a Pedro Pietri is a as a poet a writer from the new uri can diaspora the guy is incredible well was incredible he died he he has influenced mine my my art in so many ways he so he was so weird he was so so passionate I loved him I love that you brought his name into the room thank you for that my give it up representing Nebraska hope Stratman the season of phantasmal peace by Derek Walcott then all the nations of birds lifted together the huge net of the shadows of this earth in multitudinous dialects twittering tongues stitching and crossing it they lifted up the shadows of long pine stone trackless slopes the shadows of glass faced towers down evening streets the shadow of a frail plant on a city sill the net rising soundless as night the bird's cries soundless until there was no longer dusk or season decline or weather only this passage of phantasmal lights that not the narrowest shadow dared to sever and men could not see looking up what the wild geese drew what the Ospreys trailed behind them in silvery ropes that flashed in the icy sunlight they could not hear battalions of starlings waging peaceful cries burying the net higher covering this world like the vines of an orchard or a mother drying the trembling gauze over the trembling eyes of a child fluttering to sleep it was the light that you will see at evening on the side of a hill in yellow October and no one hearing new what change had brought into the Ravens coin the killdeer screech the amber circling shaft such an immense soundless and high concern for the fields and cities where the birds belong except it was their seasonal passing love made seasonless or from the high privilege of their birth something brighter than Kitty for the wingless ones below them who shared dark holes in windows and in houses and higher they lifted the met with soundless voices above all change betrayals of falling suns and this season lasted one moment like the pause between dusk and darkness between fury and peace but for such as our earth is now it lasted long oh come back oh don't leave me wait hope I am have visiting Nebraska a couple of times but I've never spent more than one day there and so if you had to tell someone who hadn't spent a lot of time or had never been to nebraska one thing they should experience about your state that you love what would it be okay you try to sneak off but I caught you you got me well of course anyone who's going there should visit all of the sights like Henry Doorly do it zoo and all this all that jazz okay really one thing I want them to experience is all of the corn puns because they make me so happy corn and beef you know we make a lot of corny jokes in Nebraska I didn't know that there's a lot of them but if you have an ear for them see what she did there you're gonna get it home I see you give it up for hope y'all representing Hawaii Nikolas Amador [Applause] two guitars by Victor Hernandez cruise two guitarists were left in a room all alone they sat on different corners of the parlor in this solitude they started talking to each other my strings are tight and full of tears the man who plays me has no heart I have seen it leave out of his mouth I have seen it melt out of his eyes it dives into the pores of the earth when they squeeze me tight I bring down the angels who live off the chorus the trio's singing loosen organs with melodious screwdrivers sentiment comes off the hinges because a song is a mountain put into words and landscape is the feeling that enters something so big in the harmony we are always in danger of blowing up with passion the other guitar in 1944 New York when the trio los panchos started with mexican and puerto rican birds i am the one that one of them held tight like a woman their throats gardenia gardens an airport for dreams I've been in theaters and cabarets I played in an apartment on one hundred and second Street after a baptism pregnant with women the men flirted and were offered chicken soup KO's came out of hallways as he from caves someone is opening the door now the two guitars hushed and there was a resonance in the air like what is left by the last chord of a bolero a nickel a Nicholas and I have done this a couple of times you're used to this you're ready yeah so Nicholas if you could eat one thing for dinner for the rest of your life what would you make sure was the one thing you could eat you could tell I'm hungry right I didn't have yeah me too you know it's funny I there's something I've always wanted to try and it's not a food it's a drink it's from the first Star Wars movie okay Lucas he's drinking blue milk I'm the moisture farm and I yeah that's not feel about butter beer yeah but but from Harry Potter's yeah I've always wanted to tell butter beer too but I've always wanted to taste blue milk like I I wonder how it you know is it sweet is it I mean we got strawberry and chocolate let's go make some little milk yeah it still would that even be flavored I have no idea yeah that sounds weird it does sound weird we're gonna try it out though Nicholas you and I are gonna figure it out okay give it up for Nicholas y'all thank you representing Kentucky Kira Jones the Negro speaks of rivers by Langston Hughes I've known rivers I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood and human veins my soul has grown deep like the rivers I bathed in the Euphrates when Dawn's were young I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans and I've seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset I've known rivers ancient dusky rivers my soul has grown deep like the rivers ii-era how you feeling so I want to know a little bit about what you dreamed your career would be when you were a child Oh when I was a kid uh-huh I wanted to be an animal cop what like on the show you know the show Animal Cops like Houston or like I'm old girl no I don't know so animal cops are like the cops that take the animals from like the bad situations so I did this thing when I was oh it's kind of embarrassing but if a dog was like feral or something they'd take a catch Pole and they'd catch it so I take a belt and I'd have a stuffed animal and I'd like loop it around the step animals neck and like oh I thought it was like a TV show this is an actual dog oh that's mad cute so you would be the one who would like make sure they're like feral teddy bears yeah we're like taking care of Tenderheart I love that give it up a gear thank you [Applause] you could sell I grew up in New York we just got one kind of cop I don't know give it up for janae Claxton represents him South Carolina a satirical elegy on the death of a late famous general by Jonathan Swift His grace impossible what dead of old age too and in his bed and could that mighty warrior fall and so inglorious after all well since he's gone no matter how the last loud Trump must wake him now and trust me as the noise grows stronger he'd wish to sleep a little longer and could he be indeed sold as by the newspapers we are told three score I think is pretty high twas time and conscience he should die this world he cumbered long enough he burnt his candle to the snuff and that's the reason some folks think he left behind so great a stink behold his funeral appears nor Widow sighs nor orphans tears want at such times each heart to peer attend the progress of his hers but what of that his friends may say he had those honors in his day true to his prophet and his pride he made them weep before he died come hither all ye empty things he bubbles raised by breath of kings who float upon the tide of State come hither and behold your fade let pride be talked by this to rebuke how very mean of things a Duke from all his ale got honors flung turned to that dirt from whence he sprung a janae how you feeling you're good so I want to know if you could win an Olympic medal for anything what would it be and why okay so I play volleyball like all year round Wow like volleyball is obviously one of the obvious answers but I also did ice skating and I think that like that's just so beautiful like honestly they're just so good at it so I think I'd want to win at that so you do ice skating no I did but then I quit because like the blades and the ice was just so scary so I quit so the ice skating the blades in the ice part but that's what you would want to win for yes I believe in your dreams girls whatever makes you happy I'm here for give it up for janae representing Arizona Sofia vines Inger tarantulas on the life of Bowie by Thomas Lux for some semi-tropical reason when the rains fall relentlessly they fall into swimming pools these otherwise bright and scary arachnids they can swim a little but not for long and they can't climb the ladder out they usually drown but if you want their favor if you believe there is justice a reward for not loving the death of ugly and even dangerous the eel hog snake rats creatures if you believe these things then you would leave a life buoy or two in your swimming pool at night and in the morning you would Hull ashore the huddled hairy survivors and escort them back to the bush and know be assured that at least these saved as individuals would not turn up again someday in your hat drawer or the tangled underworld of your socks and that even when your belief in justice emerges with your belief and dreams they may tell the others and a sign language for times a subtle and complicated as man's that you are good that you love them that you would save them again hi Sophia how you feeling I want to know what's something that makes your family unique my family is a family full of performers really how many people in your family five five including me okay had to do a head count there but yeah we all grew up my dad grew up a pianist doing theater and the girls my sisters and I theater as well that's amazing definitely well thank you so much for sharing a little bit about them for us yeah yeah and I think without their influence I don't think I'd be here right now yeah I'm so I appreciate that do you think theatre helped with the recitation definitely that's awesome give it up for Sophia y'all before we announce the top three contestants I would like to invite the nine finalists back on stage y'all havin a good time you're good me too [Applause] [Applause] the schools of each of these nine finalists will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials and the students themselves will receive an award of at least $1,000 each it yeah in recognition of their achievement in making it to the national finals of Poetry Out Loud each student will receive a national finalist medal joining us onstage for the presentation are Mary Ann Carter and Steven young [Applause] from Arizona Sophia vines endure [Applause] [Applause] from Hawaii Nicholas Amador [Applause] from Kentucky kierra a Jones from Massachusetts shoddy zai [Applause] from North Dakota Maria Modi tsuya [Applause] from Nebraska hope Stratman [Applause] [Applause] from Puerto Rico mati accost Anandi's [Applause] from South Carolina janae Claxton [Applause] from Vermont Veera s kaha eyes let's have another round of applause for our national finalists I'm gonna let you look at their beautiful faces while I step back to get the final names for the top three who are going to be moving on to the next round right now I'm gonna let the DJ play a little bit of music so y'all can bounce a little bit do all of this they're looking at me like nah I'll be right back very short musical break I now have the names of our top three finalists remember that students were scored on six categories physical presence voice and articulation dramatic appropriateness evidence of understanding overall performance and accuracy overall performance and accuracy as I said before are worth more than the other categories here they are in no particular order from Nebraska Pope Stratman from Hawaii Nikolas Amador and from South Carolina Jame Paxton congratulations to our top three while they are taking a few moments to prepare for their final recitation let me tell you a bit more about our judges tonight Robert Casper is the head of the poetry and literature sensor at the Library of Congress he previously worked at the Poetry Society of America and the Council of literary magazines and presses where he served on the board of directors he also served as the poetry chair for the Brooklyn book festivals literary council and as a judge for the great America Reads series levena jawani is a Chicago based director and adapter her directing credits include among others work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival writers theater and Resaca Theatre Company where she served as artistic director for six years she was named timeout Chicago's best next generation stage director in 2013 Robin cast Lewis is the author of voyage of the sable Venus a National Book Award winner she is the poet laureate of Los Angeles and writer in residence at the University of Southern California a previous finalist for the readers of poetry award she has published her work in numerous journals and anthologies Don Lundy Martin is a poet essayist and conceptual video artist she is an award-winning author of four books of poems and three limited edition chapbooks Martin is a professor of English in the writing department at the University of Pittsburgh and Cole director for the Center for African American poetry and poetics she is currently working on a memoir and received in NEA in nonfiction virgil Suarez is the author of more than 20 books including Banyon for which he won the book exploreamerica Latino literature Hall of Fame poetry prize in addition to poetry he has published novels short stories essays and translations he is a previous NEA creative writing fellow and he currently teaches creative writing at Florida State University this is probably one of the hardest jobs and so thank you to all our outstanding judges both at tonight's competitions and at yesterday's semi-finals is it cool if I name yesterday semi-finals judges I think some of them are in the room let's show them a little bit of love y'all ready hey I see you judges Quique Ovilus christian con Terri Ellen cross Davis SEMA Reza Thomas Dooley Nikki herd Monica Suk Xavier Samora Lawrence men boy Davis Joseph green gour econ s Warren Melissa range as you can imagine picking the best recitations is not an easy task thanks also to our sign language interpreters for this evening give it up for them Nia angle and Cheryl Ringo I also want to take a moment to give a shout out to DJ stylist in the back he's like playing music I'm all doing this you are you are now in tune to the sounds of the vibe conductor teaching stylist again you are now in tuned to the sounds of the vibe conductor DJ stylist he's added a lot of energy momentum tonight I'm so appreciative of him for those who don't know him he has pioneered his way through the DC creative landscape with his original production style that creates musical narratives that are nuanced compelling and ambitious can I get like a 10-second little Samsung I really just want a dance I've got to make sure that I give a special special thanks to the teachers educators and poetry mentors who have shepherded our state champions through Poetry Out Loud it's not easy at the end of the day after you've been doing all of your 9:00 to 5:00 grading your prep to then go work with young people to ensure that they are ready for this competition you all are doing amazing amazing work if no one has thank you I thank you from the bottom of my heart that wasn't scripted I just love y'all many of you educators are here in DC with the state champions and we also welcome those who are watching via live stream from home and a final thanks to all of the family and friends of the students who are here with us tonight your support and enthusiasm have made this a truly wonderful experience for everyone so please give a round of applause for yourselves I think our three finalists should be ready now they'll be coming back to recite one more poem to start us off I just want to make sure I just want to make sure from Nebraska hope Stratman to Solitude by Alice Kerry I am weary of the working weary of the long day's heat to thy comfortable bosom looked out take me spirits sweet weary of the long blind struggle for a pathway brights and high weary of the dimly dying hopes that never quite all die we researching a bad cipher for a good that must be meant discontents with being weary weary with my discontent I am weary of the trusting where my trusts but torments prove wilt thou keep faith with me wilt thou be my true and tender love I am weary drifting driving like a homeless bark at sea kindly comfortable spirit wilt thou give thyself to me give thy bird to sing me sonnets give thy winds my cheeks to kiss and thy mossy rocks to stand for the memorials of our bliss I in reverence will hold thee never vexed with jealous ills though thy wild and whimpering waters wind about a Thousand Hills [Applause] representing Hawaii Nikolas Amador [Applause] the new Colossus by Emma Lazarus not like the brazen giant of Greek fame with conquering limbs astride from land to land here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch whose flame is the imprisoned lightning and her name mother of exiles from her beacon hand glows worldwide welcomed her mild eyes commands the air bridged Harbor that Twin Cities frame cheap ancient lands your storied pomp cries she with silent lips give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free the wretched refuse of your teeming Shore send these the homeless tempest-tossed to me I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door representing South Carolina janae Claxton I go back to May 1937 by Sharon olds I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges I see my father strolling out under the ochre sandstone arch the red tile was glinting like bent plates of blood behind his head I see my mother with a few light books at her hip standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks the wrought iron gate still open behind her its sword tips aglow in the may air they are about to graduate they are about to get married they are kids they are dumb all they know is they are innocent they would never hurt anybody I want to go up to them and say stop don't do it she's the wrong woman he's the wrong man you are going to do things you cannot imagine you would ever do you are going to do bad things to children you are going to suffer in ways you have not heard of you are going to want to die I want to go up to them they're in the late May sunlight and say it her hungry pretty face turning to me her pitiful beautiful untouched body his arrogant handsome face turning to me his pitiful beautiful untouched body but I don't do it I want to live I take them up like the male and female paper dolls and bang them together at the hips like chips of Flint as if to strike sparks from them I say do what you are going to do and I will tell about it [Applause] please join me in welcoming to the stage the National Assembly of state our agency CEO Pam bro good evening everyone I am incredibly pleased to bring you very warm greetings from America's state arts agencies proudly in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation State Arts agencies have made it possible for approximately 3.5 million high school students to participate in Poetry Out Loud since its inception igniting heart and mind poetry allows students to express the world around them and better understand the humanity we all share we've certainly seen that evidence this evening students also build self-confidence and public speaking skills through the exploration of poetry out loud and that is the beauty of the program and I know that State Arts agencies are eager to share the beauty and joy of poetry with millions of students yet to come on behalf of the nation's state arts agency family congratulations to all state winners and they're all amazing winners and our very best wishes to this evenings finalists thank you Thank You Pam as we are waiting for the final results I'd like to welcome special guest artists kaya cater kaya cater grew up between two worlds one between her family's deep ties to Canadian folk music the other the years she spent learning study in Appalachian music in the USA her old-time banjo picking skills and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK garnering critical acclaim from outlets such as Rolling Stone and uncut kaya is currently working on her next album due for release in early 2019 she has accompanied here tonight with bassist Andrew Ryan Kai you ready oh yeah please put your hands together and welcome kaya cater [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] what do you you don't tell making up you I truly understand you have another me you will no longer be my maybe the false then you told me Lily when we said all you said to try to make me believe all them lies they when the Sun went down never me no longing man oh man – booster yeah I'm gonna me some handsome little who rules his is best will feel clean suit is all the money of gun and a dollar so that creep 15 cents and then all more for me gonna take me to my lonesome green know I'll never be so would another may see if his eyes be blue let's see some serfs careful to be same won't you take me well the last time I saw my pretty little me and she was standing in your how do I mean your hands in the crying sue calling come back honey please don't go now come on little peek to me what do you think your own time making of you and I used to think I choose the prettiest little sunshine [Applause] so how about these incredible students tonight I grew up in Canada and unfortunately we don't have poetry out loud there but I might just bring the idea back you know and let him know about it so that last song you heard was a traditional tune all the way from West Virginia called little pink is anybody here from West Virginia awesome awesome will represent I just wanted to speak a little bit about the impact that poetry has had on my life and I was a very big fan of people like Ralph Ellison and Langston Hughes and they had a tremendous effect on my poetry and on my songwriting I became a songwriter and I'm gonna play you one of my own songs now this is called harvest and the plow baby baby I've been seen in Chile we ending show you soon you this thing did hold you handing in this lane could this dance with me in the what is cool and it's it's true we live don't raisins the angel sing we steep leaf of the palsy – buddy little bit loose often swing could this dance with me the waters cold and it's [Laughter] it's food the last a strong heavy ancient as the living I think in ways and I said sure I've been seen in change [Applause] all right we have one final song left for you and this is a favorite traditional song of mine this is called trouble in mind but before we do that I just wanted to say that um it's a great pleasure to be here at this event and it's a great honor and I'm just so excited to to see what these students have to offer to us in the future it's gonna be an incredible next generation and I can tell you that and if you like what you heard most of these songs are off of my latest record 9-pin which will be for sale in the lobby so you can pick it up there thanks again I'm kaya cater and this is Andrew Ryan we'll take your oh this one trouble in my number but I won't be blue eyes cause the sun's gonna shine in my bag go Sunday Jubilee man it's you and I nearly lost my mind sometimes I feel like leave me sometimes I feel like I'm gonna go to the river gonna bring my rankine and if these blues up take me up rock away from [Applause] I hit them also not some rare little bit 219 train pacify my troubled mind it's you and I've nearly lost my mind sometimes I feel like living sometimes I feel like dying true blue mind blue you know I won't be blue cause the Sun is gonna shine in my bag goes under cause this one's gonna shiny my bag oh so they [Applause] it is now my pleasure to announce the results of the Poetry Out Loud 2018 winners drum roll please in third place winning an award of $5,000 from Nebraska Hope Stratman [Applause] [Applause] in second place winning an award of $10,000 from Hawaii Nikolas Amador [Applause] [Applause] and that means that the 2018 national champion of poetry out loud winner of $20,000 from South Carolina janae Claxton [Applause] congratulations our new national champion and all of the fine competitors that we've seen tonight I've had a wonderful time with you this evening I hope you've had a good time with me we're gonna take some pictures now so we welcome our judges and the state arts agency representatives of our nine finalists to join us on stage thank you thank you thank you to all the people behind the scenes who've been doing the work of putting this show on and thank you to you all for being here congratulations again good night [Applause]

11 thoughts on “Poetry Out Loud Finals

  1. I posted my first poetry video on my channel.
    It is about the Greek Gods.
    Check it out if you're interested. ;D

  2. Melted statues upon the ice cream castles ,
    feel the drizzle watch the frozen moon sizzle,
    mountain view vacant mansion still expanding,
    no surprising the horizons slam dancing, gravity and galaxy havin intercourse,
    magically imagine me in your gallery ,
    museum on a cliff says i have a gift ,
    so I skate on chocolate chips hoping vanilla drips,
    sunsets and blood moons on the typhoon,
    lets coast and see the ghost counting silver spoons,
    or lets stay and watch the bay upon the milky way  ,
    pirate ships of starfish making a getaway, now breath inhale the breeze till the clouds blead ,
    dont grieve feel relieved while where sowing seeds,
    let the glades throw a parade like we got it made ,
    watch the birds play shearedes till the fog fades,

  3. So they just recite famous poems ? Where the freestyle at ? I’m here for spoken word not performances ugh beautiful poetry but not your own

  4. Janae of S.C was the first to make me want to continue listening. And I'm gonna need an i.d check for Nicholas – I'm almost positive he attended the last teacher's conference

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