From Danielle Brown, Arts Education Special Projects Coordinator —
Buckner will go on to compete in the National Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C. May 2-4
Saturday, March 19 was a full day of Shakespeare, Frost, Hoagland and other famous poets’ verses as 21 Tennessee high school students from across the state competed for the 2016 Tennessee Poetry Out Loud State Championship. By 3:00 p.m., the official judges’ votes were in and Alexia Buckner of Bolton High School in Arlington was announced champion. She will now go on to compete in the Poetry Out Loud National Finals May 2-4 in Washington , D.C.
A senior, this is Buckner’s first time to compete in Poetry Out Loud (POL). Having participated in theater for the past three years, she enjoys singing, dancing and acting. Buckner plans on attending college in the fall at Southeast Missouri State where she will major in musical theater.
Getting to know the poems and poets was a great experience for Buckner, “I started looking at random pieces at first, but after I started to delve into the pieces it really sparked my interest because some of these writers were very tormented or happy or just puzzled or confused about life and I’m thinking, ‘I’m the same way, why am I not writing poetry—this is ideal!'”
Buckner recited poems by Christina Rossetti, Linda Pastan and Archibald Macleish. She was coached by her teacher, Christy Brawner who encouraged Buckner to participate in the competition, “She’s an excellent student, she’s got a great memory, she’s got a lot of charisma. And I always knew if she could funnel it and channel it in this direction, that she would be successful and I’m super proud that she is.”
Marquavious Moore is Poetry Out Loud’s first runner-up. He is a junior at Harding Academy of Memphis. He enjoys playing piano and is also an All-State football player named to First Team Offense. In the 2015 football season, he broke Harding Academy’s total rushing record.
Second runner-up, Grace Whitten is a senior at Battle Ground Academy. A four-year participant in POL, she was state champion in 2015. A poet in her own right, Whitten is also passionate about slam poetry and loves to perform whenever she can.
Finally, the 3rd runner-up is Sidney McCarty of Clarksville High School. A senior, she has also participated in POL is recent years. In addition to poetry recitation, McCarty loves theater and writing.
Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest presented by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission. The program seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry, recitation and performance building on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form.
The Tennessee Arts Commission is a state agency whose mission is to cultivate the arts for the benefit of all Tennesseans and their communities.
Poetry Out Loud Awards
The state champion and his/her teacher will receive cash prizes and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship. The first runner-up and his/her teacher will receive cash prizes and the school will receive a stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in cash and school stipends at the National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.