LANSING— Randi Laundré, a sophomore at Alba Public School, was crowned the Michigan Poetry Out Loud Champion on Saturday, March 10. The two-day Poetry Out Loud event was held at Saginaw Valley State University and hosted by the Michigan Humanities Council and Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
“All the students who participated in this year’s Poetry Out Loud state championship deserve a huge round of applause for bringing our rich legacy of poetry alive with great passion, poise and heart,” said Katie Wolf, executive director of the Michigan Humanities Council.
Although she was hit by the flu in the middle of the competition, Laundré battled on with a near-flawless performance and wowed the judges in her recitation of “A Psalm of Life,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; “Eros Turannos,” by Edwin Arlington Robinson; and “She Walks in Beauty,” by Lord Byron (George Gordon). She was one of 36 students to compete for the Michigan title.
As the Michigan champion, Laundré won $200 as well as a $500 stipend for her school toward the purchase of new poetry books. Next, she will travel to Washington, D.C., where she will compete in the national Poetry Out Loud finals, held May 13-15. The national champion will win a $20,000 college scholarship.
“These students are very dedicated, selecting three great works from an anthology of 500 carefully selected poems, meticulously interpreting and memorizing them, and then reciting them before a live audience,” Wolf said. “You cannot be in the audience and not feel goose bumps as these young people breathe new life into these poems. I don’t envy the judges, but even they, after two days of careful scoring, expressed their gratitude for having this experience with much emotion.”
First runner-up Alexis Barrera, of Hartland High School, won $100 as well as a $200 stipend for her school library. The second runner-up is Brittni Eller, Grand River Preparatory High School (Grand Rapids); and third runner-up is Mounir Jamal, Forest Hills Central High School (Grand Rapids). All four students will receive a scholarship valued at $1,000 each to participate in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, held May 10-12 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation competition for high school students. By encouraging youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary heritage. Poetry Out Loud, partially funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation, is managed in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council in partnership with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Other participating organizations this year included the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, Library of Michigan, the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Center for Poetry at Michigan State University, Friends of Theodore Roethke, and the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University.To learn more about this program, visit www.michiganhumanities.org or www.poetryoutloud.org.
About the Michigan Humanities Council The Michigan Humanities Council is a private, nonprofit organization created to foster a better understanding of each other and our state through local cultural, historical and literary experiences for all. The Council was founded in 1974 and is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and individual donors. For more information on future programs, upcoming grant opportunities or how you can support these efforts, please visit www.michiganhumanities.org or call (517) 372-7770.
About the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs serves to encourage, develop and facilitate an enriched environment of artistic, creative and cultural activity in Michigan. It is Michigan’s affiliate of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs was created in 1991 by Executive Order as the state agency that administers arts and cultural grant appropriations, sets arts and cultural goals, and establishes and facilitates communication networks. For more information, visit www.michiganadvantage.org/arts or call (517) 241-4011.