Lyndon DeFoe of University High School Academy in Southfield. Photo credit: Donald Trumpie

Lyndon DeFoe of University High School Academy in Southfield. Photo credit: David Trumpie

Lyndon DeFoe of University High School Academy in Southfield, was named the 2016 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State

Champion after a day-long recitation competition at The Library of Michigan/Michigan Historical Center in Lansing on March 4.

DeFoe took top honors among 33 student competitors, reciting “The Bones of My Father” by Etheridge Knight in his final round. First runner-up was Mary Kate Wright of Owosso High School (Owosso), second runner-up was Sasha McCullom of Paul K. Cousino Senior High School in Warren, and third runner-up was Jacob Russell of Hartland High School.

“The Michigan Humanities was proud to see the students and their wonderful talent today,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, Executive Director.  “Young people are the hope for the future of Humanities and we look forward to watching Lyndon represent Michigan at the National Competition in May. We are so proud of each one of the students that have taken part of Poetry Out Loud this year.”


Photo credit: David Trumpie

As the state champion, DeFoe received a $200 cash award, $500 stipend for his school and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Michigan at the National Poetry Out Loud competition in May 2016. The national competition will be live-streamed at Wright, as runner-up, received a $100 cash award and $200 for her school. All four state finalists will receive plaques commemorating their achievement. The national champion will receive a $20,000 college scholarship.

Poetry Out Loud, a national high school recitation competition, encourages youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, while also mastering public speaking skills, building self-confidence and learning about literary heritage. The program has engaged more than 75,000 students since the Michigan Humanities and Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs began hosting it in 2005.

The program is open to all high schools, including home-school groups. Registration for the next program will open this fall. If teachers or parents would like to learn more about this program, please visit or call 517.372.7770.

Poetry Out Loud School Champions

Kelly Spaath Allen Park High School Allen Park
McKenna Reynolds Oakland Christian School Auburn Hills
Michael Whennen Boyne Falls Public School Boyne Falls
Leah Riutta Calumet High School Calumet
Cloe Heise Charlevoix Middle/High School Charlevoix
Melodi Metcalf Henry Ford Academy: Creative Studies Detroit
Ejiro Enajero Detroit School of Arts Detroit
Tia Smith Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High Detroit
Mathieu Wiesner East Lansing High School East Lansing
Olivia Van Duyne Carman-Ainsworth High School Flint
Olivia Karhonen Powers Catholic High School Flint
Rin Statz Leelanau School Glen Arbor
Jacob Russell Hartland high School Hartland
Olivia Lohmann Houghton High School Houghton
Isaac Provencher Kensington Woods School Lakeland
Brooke Gehringer Churchill High School Livonia
Rebecca McNamee Marquette Senior High School Marquette
Chelsea Szilagyi Calvary Baptist Academy Midland
Alexander Wagner Detroit Catholic Central Novi
Dhriti Deb Okemos High School Okemos
MaryKate Wright Owosso High School Owosso
Raven Millard Pentwater Public Schools Pentwater
Grace Garver Petoskey High School Petoskey
Drew Dixon Portage Northern High School Portage
Sarah Payne Portage Central High School Portage
Katelyn Zajac Stoney Creek High School Rochester
Amelia Blasio Shrine Catholic High School Rochester Hills
Drew Meinecke Royal Oak High School Royal Oak
Kathryn Franko Saline High School Saline
Lyndon DeFoe University High School Academy Southfield
Brooke McKnight Bradford Academy Southfield
Sasha McCullom Paul K. Cousino High School Warren
Jayla Woodley Waterford Mott High School Waterford
Mario Kakos West Bloomfield High School West Bloomfield
Adam Nichols Williamston High School Williamston
Anne Stec Wyandotte Roosevelt High School Wyandotte
Jared Blauwkamp Tri-Unity Christian High School Wyoming

Michigan Poetry Out Loud Sponsors:

National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Humanities

Poetry Foundation

Michigan Humanities

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs


Library of Michigan

Michigan Youth Arts

Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Center for Poetry at Michigan State University