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Maryland Names Poetry Out Loud State Champion

Maryland Names Poetry Out Loud State Champion

March 14, 2013Press Release

The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) announced that Blessed Sheriff, a sophomore at Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County, placed first at the 2013 Maryland Poetry Out Loud (POL) state final competition on Saturday, March 9 at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Radio personality Aaron Henkin of WYPR hosted the event, which featured three scored rounds of poetry recitation from the nine students who advanced through classroom, school, county and regional contests to arrive at Saturday’s final.

Theresa Colvin, executive director of the Maryland State Arts Council, said “Each year, the students deliver masterful performances at the state final and at all levels of competition, gain confidence and the ability to captivate an audience by communicating powerfully. We congratulate all the students who participated.”

More than 16,000 Maryland students in 16 counties and 61 schools participated in POL this year. A panel of judges scored students’ performances in categories such as level of difficulty, dramatic appropriateness, voice and articulation and overall performance. Among the judges was Nora Sadler, a junior at the University of Chicago, who won the 2010 Maryland POL competition and went on to place third at the POL national final.

Ms. Sheriff, who recited “Love Armed,” by Aphra Behn, “Heaven,” by Cathy Song and “The Lamb,” by Linda Gregg, will receive $200 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Maryland in the POL national competition, April 29-30 at the GW Lisner Auditorium. Her school, Richard Montgomery High, will receive a $500 stipend toward the purchase of poetry books.

After Ms. Sheriff, Johana Gourdin of Dulaney High School (Baltimore County) placed second and Brianne Wade of Boonsboro High School (Washington County) placed third.

The Maryland POL program, which encourages high school students to learn poetry through memorization and recitation, is supported by the MSAC in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. The statewide competition is open to all Maryland high schools, grades 9-12.

An event program and YouTube clips from the POL Maryland Final is available online. To learn more about Poetry Out Loud visit the website at For information about the Maryland competition visit, or contact Program Director, Chris Stewart at

About the Maryland State Arts Council
The mission of the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), an agency of the Maryland Department of Commerce, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, is to encourage and invest in the advancement of the arts for the people of Maryland. The latest economic impact report shows that MSAC grantees’ activities support more than 11,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generate $1 billion in economic activity and $37.8 million in state and local taxes. 

For more information about the Maryland State Arts Council call (410) 767-6555 or TTY 1-800-735-2258, or visit the MSAC web site at