The 2018 Tennessee Poetry Out Loud (POL) champion is Alyvia Crawley, a junior at Clarksville High School in Clarksville, TN. The competition was held on Saturday, March 10, in the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I didn’t know what the judges were looking for, but I really understood all of my poems and I wanted to portray what the authors were saying,” said Crawley. “One of the best skills I learned was to comprehend what someone else is saying and then communicate that.”
Roy Buchanan, Alyvia’s theater and speech teacher at Clarksville High School emphasized the skills POL students gain through the process. “There are several skills that students take away from Poetry Out Loud. Part of it is gaining confidence to work in a world that is very competitive. Secondly Poetry Out Loud teaches them to look deeper into what is written and try to understand the interpretation and then verbalize it so others can understand it,” he said.
Saturday’s statewide competition featured 18 finalists from across Tennessee, but only the state champion will go on to compete in the national finals held in Washington D.C. April 23-25, 2018. Crawley will receive a scholarship award and a trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Tennessee.
“Poetry Out Loud is the one opportunity for students to compete on a statewide level on stage and recite the works of poets,” said TN Arts Commission Chair Ritche Bowden. “The students who competed on Saturday were impressive and they all performed very well.”
Kiya Brown, a freshman from Hutchison School in Memphis is the first runner-up. Brown will receive a scholarship award and the school will receive a stipend for the purchase of poetry books and supplies. Preston Cates from Harding Academy of Memphis is the second runner-up and Grayson Brawner from Cumberland County High School is the third runner-up. They will also receive scholarship awards. Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in scholarship awards and school stipends at the National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.
“Poetry Out Loud is an opportunity for Tennessee students to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage,” said Anne B. Pope, Executive Director, TN Arts Commission. “We wish Alyvia the best of luck in the national competition.”
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, in partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, presented POL 2018. 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.