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For immediate release Alyssa Hickman Grove, 801.533.5760
15 March 2012 Constituent Relations & Media, Utah Arts & Museums
Geoffrey Fattah, 801.386.4755
Communications Director, Utah Dept. of Community and Culture
MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School wins state Poetry Out Loud finals
Shannon McCullam of Box Elder High School named runner-up
SALT LAKE CITY — MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School took home top honors from the state finals for the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, presented by Utah Arts & Museums on Tuesday, March 13, 2012, at the Black Box Theatre in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Hassan will receive $200 and travel expenses to represent Utah in the national championship in May in Washington, D.C. Her school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Runner-up Shannon McCullam of Box Elder High School in Brigham City will receive $100, with $200 for her school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a $20,000 college scholarship to the national champion.
The sixteen finalists participated in a two-week poetry curriculum and won their classroom and school competitions — or a preliminary competition held for those whose schools were not holding a competition — in order to advance to the March 13 Utah state finals. They memorized and prepared three works selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems. Each contestant performed two of their three chosen works, with finalists competing in an additional round with their third poems.
Champion MarKaye Hassan said choosing her poems was difficult. “There were so many good ones. I would soak in the words, and then one would pop out at me. Those are the ones I chose,” she said. A senior, Hassan will attend Utah State University’s BFA program in acting in the fall. Her advice to future competitors: “Pick the poems you love, and love the poems you pick.” Her competition poems were “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain," by Emily Dickinson; “Ego,” by Denise Duhamel; and “Vixen,” by W.S. Merwin.
Judges were Utah Poet Laureate Katharine Coles, Plan-B Theatre Company Producing Director Jerry Rapier, poet and USU English Professor Shanan Ballam, and Utah State Office of Education Literacy Coordinator Tiffany Hall. The judges use a comprehensive scoring rubric provided by the competition sponsors, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Competitors were judged on their physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness of the performance, level of poem difficulty, evidence of poem understanding, and overall performance. In addition, an accuracy judge scores the students on how precisely they recite the poems.
“We were looking for the student who could best inhabit the poem and really be the vessel for the poets’ work,” explained judge Jerry Rapier, “the student who put recitation in the background and became seamlessly connected to the poem. We judges were all in agreement that MarKaye demonstrated this in an exceptional way; the very familiar Emily Dickinson poem seemed to be coming from her.”
State finalists competing at the Rose Wagner included:
Shania Peterson, Bingham High School
Shannon McCullam, Box Elder High School
Jeffrey Maloy, East High School
Abigail Lyons, Gunnison Valley High School
Cole Pruden, Herriman High School
Connor McCoy, Judge Memorial Catholic High School
Lexi Crandall, Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy
Ashley Charriere, Layton High School
MarKaye Hassan, Logan High School
Shonacee Schmidt, Manti High School
Alyssa Peterson, Merit College Preparatory Academy
Jesse Smith, Monticello High School
Jessica Ketchum, Navigator Pointe Academy
Rowan Hadlock, North Sanpete High School
Nick Peterson, Provo High School
Daniel Lowman, Syracuse High School
“These state finalists are so impressive,” said Margaret Hunt, Utah Arts & Museums Director. “Their moving interpretations of these literary masterworks are a joy to watch. We’re very proud of them, and each one deserves our heartfelt congratulations.”
Utah has had three finalists in the national top ten. One finalist received a $5,000 scholarship award and was contacted by noted Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti to congratulate her on her recitation of his poem, I Am Waiting.
Poetry Out Loud, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.
For more information or for details about participating in next year’s Poetry Out Loud, please visit Utah Arts & Museums at artsandmuseums.utah.gov.
About Utah Arts & Museums
Utah Arts & Museums is a division of the Utah Department of Community and Culture with a goal to promote innovation in and the growth of Utah’s arts and culture community. The division provides funding, education, and technical services to individuals and organizations statewide so that all Utahns, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or economic status, can access, understand, and receive the benefits of arts and culture. Additional information on the programs and services can be found at www.artsandmuseums.utah.gov or by calling 801.236.7555.
About Poetry Out Loud
The National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation and state arts agencies work together to bring Poetry Out Loud to high schools across the United States. After successful pilot programs in Washington, DC, and Chicago, the second phase of Poetry Out Loud was launched nationwide in the spring of 2006 with tens of thousands of students participating. In 2009 nearly 325,000 students participated. More information about Poetry Out Loud can be found at www.poetryoutloud.org.
Alyssa Hickman Grove
Constituent Relations & Media
Utah Arts & Museums
617 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84102