Poetry Out Loud journey inspires student
On March 16, the South Carolina Arts Commission announced that I was the South Carolina state champion for the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest.
The next month, I advanced to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, which took place from April 29-30 in Washington, D.C., to compete with 53 other representatives for a chance to win a $20,000 scholarship. Nation-wide, more than 4,000 students began the competition, and 53 remained.
I competed with nine regional finalists at the Columbia Museum of Art for my position. We all recited two poems we had memorized for months through school-wide and regional contests. Three students, including myself, were named state finalists and recited a third poem in order to determine the winner.
Here, Justin Fox, a Spartanburg High School senior, was named state runner-up and Kynnedi McManus, a Strom Thurmond High School senior from Edgefield County came in third.
As the state champion, I received $200 and an all-expenses paid trip for me and a chaperone to compete in the national finals.
The Charleston County School of the Arts, the high school I attend, received a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books.
More importantly however, throughout this entire process I have been exposed to a multitude of poets and passionate literary students just like me.
The Poetry Out Loud program was created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and was built in order to promote poetry as an oral art form as well as hone public speaking skills, build self-confidence and discover literary heritage. I have certainly experienced all this and more.
In D.C. I met a representative from every state, including the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Each and every student had a unique interpretation too add to their poems, and off the stage, everyone’s personalities were as engaging as their recitation talent.
I am honored to have represented my state, and although this year I did not return home with the gold, I am definitely stepping up to the plate again next year and hoping for the best.
Thank you to all who have supported me on the home front, especially my coach Rene Miles, family, friends and classmates.
Katherine Murchison is a junior at Charleston County’s School of the Arts where she is majoring in creative writing. She recently moved to Mount Pleasant from Long Island, N.Y.
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