SALT LAKE CITY — MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School took third place in the national finals of Poetry Out Loud on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in Washington, D.C. The national poetry recitation competition involved 365,000 students across the country who participated in classroom contests at their high schools. Fifty-three state champions advanced to the national semifinals on Monday, May 14.
Of those champions, nine finalists competed in the finals Tuesday night at the Harman Center for the Arts.
Kristen Dupard of Ridgeland, Mississippi, took first place in the seventh annual contest and will receive a $20,000 scholarship award. The second-place winner was Claude Mumbere of Burlington, Vermont, who received a $10,000 award. Hassan received the third-place prize and a $5,000 award. Each of the nine finalists received at least a $1,000 award, and their schools received $500 each for the purchase of poetry books.
Poetry Out Loud champions from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands competed in Monday and Tuesday’s events. Competitors participated in a two-week poetry curriculum.
They memorized and prepared three works selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems.
“All nine finalists were so impressive,” said Margaret Hunt, Utah Arts & Museums Director. “We feel MarKaye was exceptional. Her performance was polished and earnest at the same time, and by turns humorous and poignant. She undoubtedly has a very bright future ahead of her.”
Hassan became the Utah champion at the state Poetry Out Loud competition presented by Utah Arts & Museums on March 13, 2012, at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. At that time, she received $200 and travel expenses to represent Utah in the national championship. Hassan will attend Utah State University’s BFA program in acting in the fall.
Her competition poems were “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain," by Emily Dickinson; “Ego,” by Denise Duhamel; and “Vixen,” by W.S. Merwin. Before leaving for Washington, Hassan was interviewed by Utah Public Radio: http://upr.org/post/utah-poetry-out-loud-winner-goes-national-competition.
Guest judges for the national finals included host of “A Prairie Home Companion” and “The Writer's Almanac” Garrison Keillor, poets Marilyn Chin and Major Jackson, PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown, and Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America Alice Quinn. The judges use a comprehensive scoring rubric provided by the contest sponsors, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Competitors are judged on their physical presence, articulation, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, and accuracy.
Utah previously has had three finalists in the national top ten. For more information or for details about participating in next year’s Poetry Out Loud, please visit 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.