By Suzanne Lynch, Director of Marketing and Development –
The 2017 Tennessee Poetry Out Loud (POL) champion is Marquavious Moore, a senior at Harding Academy in Memphis. The competition was held on Saturday, March 4, in the CMA Theatre at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. This was Moore’s second year competing. He took first runner-up in last year’s competition.
“I am a big believer in stepping out of your comfort zone now and then. I tried this last year and ended up liking it enough to come back. I put a lot of time and effort in it. It’s hard getting up in front of people. Last year I didn’t know what to expect so having that under my belt came as an advantage this year,” said Moore.
Saturday’s competition featured 19 students from across Tennessee, but only one champion will go on to compete in the national finals held in Washington D.C. April 24-26, 2017. Moore and his teacher, Janelle Phipps, will receive cash prizes and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
“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 Marquavious the best of luck in the national competition.”
Addisyn Bryant from Clarksville High School, Clarksville is the first runner-up. She will receive a cash prize and her school will receive a stipend for the purchase of poetry books and supplies. Brennen Humphreys from Hardin Valley Academy, Knoxville is the second runner-up and Michelle Mellard from Brighton High School, Brighton is the third runner-up. They will also receive cash prizes. 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.
Victoria Shaw emceed Saturday’s competition. She is an award-winning songwriter who has scored four country #1 hits and won Song of the Year honors from the Academy of Country Music.
“So many wonderful things came out of this day such as keeping poetry alive, learning how to win and how to lose, but most importantly having these kids get up in front of strangers and get to a microphone in the Country Music Hall of Fame,” said Shaw.
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 2017. 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.