Jasmine Jackson from Kinston High School in Lenoir County is the North Carolina champion of Poetry Out Loud and will compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C. in May. The first runner-up was Khaiyah (K-Swizzle) Barber from Voyager Academy in Durham.
She joined high school students from 28 other North Carolina counties for the Saturday, March 5 event in Greensboro. This is an annual recitation contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and coordinated by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.
The 10th grader impressed the judges with her lively recitations of the poems: Obedience, or the Lying Tale, by Jennifer Chang, The Spider and the Fly, by Mary Howitt and Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, by Dylan Thomas.
She will now go on to compete in the national finals scheduled Monday, May 2 to Wednesday May 4 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Last year, North Carolina’s champion placed third in the national finals.
The second place winner was Khaiyah (K-Swizzle) Barber from Voyager Academy in Durham. She performed Ah! Why Because the Dazzling Sun, by Emily Brontë, I’m a Fool to Love You, by Cornelius Eady and Domestic Situation, by Ernest Hilbert.
“I applaud all the high school students across North Carolina that memorized and recited a well-known poem from the past or the present,” said Secretary Susan Kluttz of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Recitation is a powerful way to learn about literary heritage and gain self-confidence while exploring your own creativity.”
Students participating in the Poetry Out Loud program are supported with educational materials that include an online anthology, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation.
The North Carolina Poetry Out Loud state champion will receive a $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national finals, where they will compete for a $20,000 college scholarship. The state winner’s school also receives $500 to be used to purchase poetry books for its library. The runner-up at the state level receives $100, with his or her school receiving a $200 stipend for buying poetry books.
North Carolina Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson was the featured poet for the event. Each contestant had their photo taken with Stephenson.
Other distinguished members of North Carolina’s literary community served as judges including Anna Lena Phillips Bell, Jaki Shelton Green, Gretchen Steele Pratt, Matthew Wimberly, Metta-Sama Melvin, Cassandra Williams, and Nathan Ross Freeman. Event emcees are Michael Beadle, Eurydice White, and Terri Kirby Erickson.