Press Releases

2019 Poetry Out Loud winners

Nashville — The 2019 Tennessee Poetry Out Loud (POL) champion is Kendall Grimes, a junior at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN. The competition was held on Saturday, March 2, in the Tennessee State Museum. 

“This experience has made me aware of the words that I use and how I use them. Poetry is such an intentional and precise art you really have to think about what you are saying,” said Grimes. “I have learned to feel what I am saying to make other people feel it too.”

Leah Handelsman, Kendall’s teacher at Battle Ground Academy, emphasized the skills POL students gain through the process. “The number one skill I teach my students is you have to understand what the poem is saying and the way it is intended to be recited,” she said.

Saturday’s statewide competition featured 21 finalists from across Tennessee. The state champion will go on to compete in the National Finals held in Washington, D.C. April 30-May 1, 2019. Kendall will receive a scholarship award and a trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Tennessee

“Poetry Out Loud is an incredible opportunity for all students to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn something new about themselves and others from across the state,” said TN Arts Commission Chair Steve Bailey. “Each State Finalist possessed incredible talent. The hard work of these students and their educators was very evident.

Denise Geronimo, a junior from St. Agnes Academy is the first runner-up.  Geronimo will receive a scholarship award and the school will receive a stipend for the purchase of poetry books and supplies. Alyvia Crawley from Clarksville High School is the second runner-up and Jada Laws from Harding Academy in Memphis 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.

“It is wonderful to witness another year of impact Poetry Out Loud has had on Tennessee students in gaining speaking skills while learning about their literary heritage,” said Anne B. Pope, Executive Director, TN Arts Commission. “We wish Kendall 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 TN State Museum, presented POL 2019. 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.