On Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14, 2020, 36 high school students from across the state will take center stage for three rounds of poetry recitation and the chance to be named Michigan’s 2020 Poetry Out Loud Champion. The competition, free and open to the public, will be held at the Lansing Crowne Plaza, 925 S Creyts Rd, Lansing, MI 48917. Round 1 of competition will be held from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13. Rounds 2 and 3 will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 14.

As partners in Poetry Out Loud — a national poetry recitation program coordinated statewide by Michigan Humanities through a collaboration with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs — high school teachers from St. Joseph to Marquette have challenged their students to learn about and interpret poetry while building their public-speaking skills. Each school champion will have three poems prepared for recitation at the upcoming State Finals competition, and will be judged based on their physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy.

“Poetry Out Loud is an impressive showcase of student skill and creative expression each year, and a powerful way for student stories to be shared through the arts and humanities,” said Michigan Humanities President and CEO Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki. She continued, “We look forward to seeing the students represent their schools in this fifteenth year of Michigan’s Poetry Out Loud State Finals.”

The Michigan state champion receives a $1200 cash award, $1500 stipend for their school, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to represent Michigan at the national competition and compete for a $20,000 award. At the state level, the first runner-up will receive $600, with $700 for their school. The second runner-up will receive $200, with $200 for their school. The third runner-up will receive $100, with $100 for their school. Michigan’s Poetry Out Loud program is funded through a partnership between Michigan Humanities and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Additional support is generously provided by the Liesel Litzenburger Meijer Fund, Meijer, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Poetry Foundation.

In March 2019, Tajah-Rayne Davise of Calumet High School was named State Champion. Davise went on to represent Michigan in Washington, DC, and will be a featured guest at this year’s State Finals to reflect on her new role as college student at Michigan Technological University.

Please join Michigan Humanities and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs in celebrating the achievements of these students on March 13 and 14. If interested, interviews with lead teachers or staff at MH may be arranged.

2020 Poetry Out Loud School Champions

Shannon Kocsis Allen Park High School Allen Park
Serenity Snyder Calumet High School Calumet
Caden Kern Coleman Community Jr/Sr High School Coleman
Sondos Jaber Star International Academy Dearborn Heights
Mahbuba Sumiya Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine Detroit
Kayla McCarthy Detroit School of Arts Detroit
Basil Gray The Leelanau School Glen Arbor
Laine Kibler Black River Public School Holland
Adeline Frazier Houghton High School Houghton
Kiana Hummel Lakewood High School Lake Odessa
Lillian Powell Kensington Woods Schools Lakeland
Elizabeth Ajaero University High School Academy Lathrup Village
Ivan Paciorka Leland Public School Leland
Katelyn Brown Manistee Catholic Central Manistee
Roxy Sprowl Marquette Senior High School Marquette
Xavier Hernandez Melvindale High School Melvindale
Rin Dunlap H. H. Dow High School Midland
Brianna Kieffer Mio AuSable High School Mio
Robert Dedvukaj Detroit Catholic Central High School Novi
Rachael Dahl Owosso High School Owosso
Jaxon Anderson Pentwater Public High School Pentwater
Adriana Myers Petoskey High School Petoskey
River Pease St. Michael Academy Petoskey
Megan Reckling Riverview Community High School Riverview
Soja Kureekkattil Rochester High School Rochester
Allyson Gilliland Royal Oak High School Royal Oak
CJ Maegan Tuldanes Saline High School Saline
Zoe Downey St. Joseph High School St. Joseph
Lizzy Shetler TBAISD Career-Tech Center Traverse City
Shanti Harbus Cousino High School Warren
Anna Morton Oakdale Academy Waterford
Isabelle Sparkman Wayne Memorial High School Wayne
Maxwell Battist Williamston High School Williamston
Caleb Ave-Lallemant Roosevelt High School, Wyandotte Wyandotte
Jodi Protasiewicz Yale High School Yale
Xiomara Trujillo Early College Alliance at EMU Ypsilanti