Jackson, MS – The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) announces that Edward Wilson, a Senior at Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson, MS, is the 2023 Mississippi Poetry Out Loud® (POL) champion. The first runner-up was Kalen Wallace, a Junior at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, MS. The second runner-up was Melany Carrasco, a Junior at Pascagoula High School in Pascagoula, MS.
Presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. Nine high school students from high schools/organizations across the state participated in the Poetry Out Loud state finals, which took place at Mississippi Public Broadcasting, in Jackson, MS, on March 9, 2023. Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) will record the competition and air it on MPB Television at 7:30 p.m. on April 28, 2023.
“We are excited to host this important contest again this year. We had a great group of contestants and judges,” said David Lewis, Executive Director of MAC.
The Mississippi Poetry Out Loud finals will be hosted by Lewis and emceed by MPB Producer and Host Germaine Flood.
The guest judges included:
- C. Liegh McInnis, poet, short story writer, and author
- Richelle Putnam, MAC Roster Artist and Teach Artist, author, singer, songwriter, and Mississippi Humanities Council Speaker
- Stacey Nycole Vincent Howell, Executive Director of the Mississippi Theatre Association and former MSPOL Regional Mentor
- Dr. Phyllis Seawright, Assistant Professor of Theater and Communication at Mississippi College
- Dr. Benjamin Morris, poet, writer, and Mississippi Humanities Council Speaker
Edward Wilson will receive $200, and Jackson Preparatory School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. As the first runner-up, Kalen Wallace will receive $100, with $200 for Northwest Rankin High School.
“I think orally reciting poetry is an incredible art form. I think it gets out a lot of things that you don’t get from just writing with pen and paper,” said Wilson.
Edward Wilson will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC this May. All 55 state and jurisdictional champions will compete in the national semifinals on Tuesday, May 9, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, with the top nine students advancing to the finals on Wednesday, May 10, from 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. ET. Both days are free and open to the public and will be available through a one-time-only webcast at arts.gov. In total, $50,000 in awards and school/organization stipends, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, will be presented at the National Finals. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded and travel arrangements to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals.
Poetry Out Loud starts in the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Winners advance to a regional and/or state competition and ultimately to the national finals. At the Mississippi finals, contestants recited works they memorized from an anthology of more than 1,200 classic and contemporary poems. There were 1,410 students, 80 teachers, and 19 high schools throughout Mississippi that participated in Poetry Out Loud this year.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation provide free, standards-based curriculum materials—all available online—which teachers may choose to use in their classrooms. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.
For more information about Poetry Out Loud, visit arts.ms.gov.
About the Mississippi Arts Commission
The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) is a state agency serving more than two million people through grants and special initiatives that enhance communities, assist artists and arts organizations, promote arts education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. MAC is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other private sources. For more information, visit www.arts.ms.gov.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.
About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation recognizes the power of words to transform lives. The Foundation works to amplify poetry and celebrate poets by fostering spaces for all to create, experience, and share poetry. Follow the Poetry Foundation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and Poetry magazine at @PoetryMagazine