State Poetry Out Loud Champions from across the country traveled to Washington D.C. to compete in the May 9 semifinals for the title of 2023 National Champion. Students hoped their performances would advance them to the May 10 finals, hosted by Joy Sunday from the Netflix series Wednesday.
This year’s state and jurisdictional champions advanced from more than 158,000 students nationwide. Out of a field of 54 state and jurisdictional champions, nine high school students advanced to Poetry Out Loud National Finals. After reciting poems by Emily Jungmin Yoon, Emma Lazarus, and Garrett Hongo, Sreepadaarchana Munjuluri, a junior at Columbus North High School was named the 2023 Poetry Out loud National Champion on May 10. As National Champion, Munjuluri will receive a prize of $20,000.
The judges for the National Finals included:
H-Dirksen L. Bauman
J. Nicole Brooks
Guadalupe García McCall
Diana Khoi Nguyen
The second-place winner Edward Wilson Jr., a senior at Jackson Preparatory School in Mississippi, will receive a $10,000 prize. The third-place winner is Madison Harris, a freshman at Indian Creek School in Crownsville, Maryland, will receive a $5,000 prize.
Below are the other six finalists:
Victoria Laine Jelks (Kansas)
Stella Wright (Minnesota)
Wica-ta-wi Hoksina Brown (Montana)
Abby Sullivan (North Carolina)
Mariam Botana de Armas (Texas)
Morgan Sprouse (West Virginia)
The finalists will receive a $1,000 prize. The representing schools/organizations of all the top nine finalists will each receive $500 to purchase poetry materials. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded for Poetry Out Loud. The Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals and Finals are administered by Mid Atlantic Arts.
The state champions competing at the National Finals also had the opportunity to participate in the optional competition Poetry Ourselves. The students could submit an original work of poetry in one of two categories: either a written poem or a video of a spoken poem, both of which were judged by poet Mahogany L. Browne and announced at the May 10th National Finals. The winner in the written category is Natasha B. Connolly from Rhode Island. The winner in the spoken category is Stella Wright from Minnesota. The runner-up in the written category is Irene Jiayi Zhong from Hawai’i. The runner-up in the spoken category is Catherine Wooten from South Carolina. Please click on the students’ names above to read the winners and runners-ups poetry.
This April, a few of our Illinois Poetry Out Loud finalists participated in the State Poetry Ourselves competition. First place was “Ari” by Thad Bergschneider (Franklin High School, Franklin) and second place was “Grievance,” by Vanali Desai (Mather High School, Chicago).
For more information about Poetry Out Loud and how to participate in the 2023–2024 program, visit poetryoutloud.org