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Students Vie for Poetry Out Loud State Title

Students Vie for Poetry Out Loud State Title


Winner to represent Maryland at the national final

March 03, 2014Press Release

Of the more than 15,000 students in 17 Maryland counties who have competed in the 2014 Poetry Out Loud (POL) national poetry recitation contest, the strongest nine have advanced through a series of school, county and regional contests and will compete at the Poetry Out Loud state final Competition, March 15 at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore.

Co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, the national poetry recitation contest is administered by state arts councils across the country. The student who places first at the POL Maryland State Final competition wins the opportunity to represent Maryland at the POL national competition this April, where the top prize is $20,000 and a $500 stipend to the students’ school for the purchase of poetry books.

Blessed Sheriff (pictured), the Montgomery County Junior who last year placed first at the state final competition and went on to place second at the national competition, returns to the state final this year.


Prior to the Maryland State Final, POL finalists select three eligible poems from the hundreds listed on the POL website. After each of the three competition rounds, a panel of judges evaluates the recitations based on the criteria of physical presence; voice and articulation; dramatic appropriateness; level of difficulty; evidence of understanding; and overall performance.  Judges tally the evaluations after the first and second rounds, and the three top-scoring students advance to round 3. The student with the highest score at the end of the third round is the 2014 POL Maryland Champion. 

The Maryland POL State Final is hosted by Aaron Henkin of WYPR’s The Signal, with performances by internationally-known, award-winning singer/songwriter Victoria Vox during the competition, and Baltimore-based improv chorus, Parallel Octave, during a reception to follow the competition.

Judges include Stewart Moss, Executive Director of The Writer’s Center; Stanley Plumly, Maryland Poet Laureate; Rosiland Cauthen, Education Coordinator at CENTERSTAGE; and Hoke Gover, poet and professor at Bowie State University.

Event Details

Poetry Out Loud Maryland State Final
Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.
Falvey Hall, The Brown Center, Maryland Institute College of Art

Nine Student Finalists:

  • Akash Menon, Urbana High School, Frederick County
  • Blessed Sheriff, Richard Montgomery High School, Montgomery County
  • Myleah Lofland, Wicomico High, Wicomico County
  • Sharese Acheampong, New Town High School, Baltimore County
  • Jane Lyons, Huntingtown High School, Calvert County
  • Sarah Townsend, James M. Bennett High School, Wicomico County
  • Veronica Clements, Middletown High School, Frederick County
  • Aquilah Nelson, Bowie High School, Prince George’s County
  • Kaitlyn Wilson, Colonel Richardson High School, Caroline County

An agency of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) is dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. For information call (410) 767-6555 or TTY (410) 333-4519.

Media Contact: 

Kate McMillan