Tajah-Rayne Davise from Calumet High School has been named the 2019 Poetry Out Loud State Champion for Michigan after completing three rounds of the annual recitation competition at the Lansing Crowne Plaza on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2. Davise took top honors among 33 of her peers, reciting Love (III) by George Herbert in the final round. First runner-up is David DeBacker of Detroit Catholic Central High School, second runner-up is Grace Garver of Petoskey High School, and third runner-up is Soja Kureekkattil, of Rochester High School.

Now in its fourteenth year in the state, Michigan’s Poetry Out Loud program is coordinated by Michigan Humanities through a partnership with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

“Each year, students arrive at the State Finals with extraordinary energy and passion for poetry, and we have the pleasure of seeing them showcase their recitation skills,” said Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki, Michigan Humanities President and CEO. “Each student should be so proud of the hard work and courage that they have displayed; we are so impressed by this year’s competitors,” she continued.

As State Champion for Michigan, Tajah-Rayne Davise receives a $1,200 cash award, a $1,500 stipend for her school’s use in supporting poetry education, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to represent Michigan at the national competition and compete for a $20,000 award. The National Finals will be livestreamed via poetryoutloud.org on April 30 and May 1, 2019.

David DeBacker, First Runner-up, will receive $600, with $700 for his school. Grace Garver, Second Runner-up, will receive $200, with $200 for her school. Soja Kureekkattil, Third Runner-up, will receive $100, with $100 for her school.

Student and school prizes at the state level are funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Liesel Litzenburger Meijer Fund. Support for Poetry Out Loud in Michigan is provided by the Michigan Humanities, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Poetry Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Meijer.

Poetry Out Loud is open to all high schools and home school groups, and registration for the upcoming program will open in early fall, 2019. If students, teachers, or families would like to learn more, details are available via www.michiganhumanities.org or by calling (517) 372-7770.

Please join Michigan Humanities and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs in celebrating the new State Champion, Runners-up, and each of the School Champions who participated in the 2019 State Finals.

2019 Poetry Out Loud School Champions

Emily Hammock Allen Park High School Allen Park
Sofia DeSanto The Academy of the Sacred Heart Bloomfield Hills
Tajah-Rayne Davise Calumet High School Calumet
Nisreen Alibeg Star International Academy Dearborn Heights
Samuel Pickens Detroit School of Arts Detroit
Margaret Roberts The Leelanau School Glen Arbor
Laine Kibler Black River Public School Holland
Ilya Holden Houghton High School Houghton
Allen Gibson Lakewood High School Lake Odessa
Lillian Powell Kensington Woods Schools Lakeland
Ivan Paciorka Leland Public School Leland
Reese Papenfuss Manistee Catholic Central High School Manistee
Roxy Sprowl Marquette Senior High School Marquette
Xavier Hernandez Melvindale High School Melvindale
Claire Newman H. H. Dow High School Midland
Faith Howell Calvary Baptist Academy Midland
David DeBacker Detroit Catholic Central High School Novi
Jacob Postell Okemos High School Okemos
Taylor Estes Owosso High School Owosso
Shelby Brown Pentwater High School Pentwater
Grace Garver Petoskey High School Petoskey
Alicia Cotter Riverview Community High School Riverview
Soja Kureekkattil Rochester High School Rochester Hills
Emily Shaver Royal Oak High School Royal Oak
India Pruette Saline High School Saline
Molly Stadler Traverse Bay Area Career-Tech Center Traverse City
Jacquelyn Wrubel Cousino High School Warren
Alyx Fifer Wayne Memorial High School Wayne
Michael Michalak Lakeland High School White Lake
Isaac Jones Williamston High School Williamston
Addison Tracy Roosevelt High School-Wyandotte Wyandotte
Kayla Halleck Yale High School Yale
Xiomara Trujillo Early College Alliance at EMU Ypsilanti


About Michigan Humanities

Michigan Humanities inspires Michiganders to come together in creative and freely expressed ways to deepen our understanding of ourselves and enrich our communities. In carrying out this mission, Michigan Humanities builds awareness and excitement for humanities in everyday life, achieves best practices and sustainability for all humanities programs and services in Michigan, and upholds the following key values:

  • Inclusion, diversity, and equity
  • Discovery and understanding
  • Authentic conversation
  • Respectful collaboration
  • Meaningful experiences

Michigan Humanities’ vision is for all people of Michigan to experience and understand the importance of humanities to enrich lives.

About Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3.6 million students and 55,000 teachers from 14,000 schools in every state, Washington, DC, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.