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Anne Arundel County Student Named 2018 Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Champion at 13th Poetry Out Loud State Finals

Anne Arundel County Student Named 2018 Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Champion at 13th Poetry Out Loud State Finals


Winner to Represent Maryland at the National Finals in Washington D.C. April 23-25, 2018

March 28, 2018Press Release

Baltimore, MD (March 14, 2018) – The Poetry Out Loud (POL) Maryland State Finals was held on March 10, 2018 in the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Auditorium at the Baltimore Museum of Art. This year’s Maryland State Champion is Cayla Turner, a senior at Indian Creek School in Anne Arundel County. She was among 9 finalists that were selected from more than 7,500 Maryland students in 13 counties that competed in the statewide POL competitions.  This poetry recitation contest is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and The Poetry Foundation, and administered by U.S. state arts agencies across the country. Total Maryland student participation has reached 124,000 since its inception over 13 years ago. The Maryland Poetry Out Loud competition is produced by the Maryland State Arts Council.

“Poetry Out Loud is such a great opportunity for kids because finding and reciting a poem they can relate to is so freeing!” exclaimed 2018 State Champion Cayla Turner. “Teenagers are able to more easily express themselves and show everyone how they feel and who they are in a unique way.” During the competition Cayla recited “Life in a Love” by Robert Browning, “The Song of the Feet” by Nikki Giovanni and “Discrimination” by Kenneth Rexroth.  

“We are so proud of Cayla here at Indian Creek School,” stated Matt McCormick, Indian Creek Associate Head of the Upper School and Dean of Students.  “I’ve heard and watched her recitation of Nikki Giovanni’s ‘The Song of the Feet’ dozens of times, but there was something magical about her recitation at the state competition. Her performance embodied everything Poetry Out Loud is about and what it can achieve through young people reciting poetry.  Cayla is a fabulous young woman who is going to do amazing things!”

Second place was awarded to Amy Nguyen, a senior at Sts. Peter and Paul High, Talbot County, and third place went to Aevin Mayman, a sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, Washington County. The six remaining finalists were Jeanette Banko, Colonel Richardon High, Caroline County; Kaylor Stroot, Brookewood School, Montgomery County; Kate Maerten, Gerstell Academy, Carroll County; Wansi "Ivy" Huang, Thomas S. Wootton High, Montgomery County; Allison Latham, The King's Christian Academy, St. Mary's County; and Faith Rogers, Tuscarora High, Frederick County.

Participation in POL offers students the opportunity to learn about their literary heritage, build self-confidence and improve their public speaking skills. The process begins in the fall when participating students select three eligible poems from the POL website, analyze and memorize them, and present the poems at their school competitions. In February each school winner moves on to regionals and, in March, at the State Finals competition, the participants are evaluated on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.

"Poetry Out Loud provides a wonderful opportunity for young people to develop a relationship with poems that will continue the rest of their lives,” said Chris Stewart, MSAC POL Director and Arts in Education Program Director.  “Each year, as we travel around the state conducting regionals and meeting talented students and their dedicated teachers, we are reminded of and witness to the importance of creative expression and how this program empowers young people and gives them a voice."

This year MSAC is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has added a new component to the event, “Poetry Ourselves,” in which State Champions may also write an original poem. The winner of that portion of the competition was Aevin Mayman of Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Washington County with their poem   “em ▴ pa ▴ thy n.” Here is an excerpt. Full poem can be found on  

em ▴ pa ▴ thy  n.

1. The way I look at you when you smile / The way you never smile, so this is like a blue moon / the real kind 2. Us in your basement, 2am: as in we both need to stop feeling / stop giving 3.Why I know your tears apart from my own: the rain / read more.

“It is always inspiring to see students expand through the arts. This program offers the opportunity for students to apply personal experience and meaning to poetry... to elevate the words off the page,” stated MSAC Executive Director, Ken Skrzesz. “We thank and congratulate all the students, their teachers and parents for their commitment to this journey.”

The 2018 Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Finals Competition was hosted by Aaron Henkin of WYPR and along with performances by  Mary Sawyer Baker Award Winner Wendel Patrick. The two are co-producers of the award-winning radio neighborhood documentary series “Out of the Blocks.” The judges were Em Sea Water, a former Maryland Poetry Out Loud regional coordinator. Water balances the roles of a public school teacher, father, poet and community activist, and creates music that inspires audiences of all ages including young children. Celeste Doaks, author of Cornrows and Cornfields, (Wrecking Ball Press, 2015), and editor and contributor of poetry anthology Not Without Our Laughter: Poems of Humor, Joy, and Sexuality, (Mason Jar Press, 2017). She’s received a 2017 Rubys Grant in Literary Arts and her journalism has appeared in the Huffington Post, Village Voice, Time Out New York, and QBR (Quarterly Black Book Review). Andrew Motion, the author of 12 books of poetry including most recently Peace Talks. Motion was the UK Poet Laureate from 1999-2009, and is the co-founder and co-director of The Poetry Archive and Poetry by Heart, England’s national recitation contest open to students ages 14-18. He was knighted for his services to poetry in 2009. Before joining The Writing Seminars faculty at Johns Hopkins University, he was Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London.

The Maryland State Champion receives $1200 in prize funds from the NEA and MSAC and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Finals, April 23-25, 2018, at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. The Maryland winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up will receive $850 in combined NEA and MSAC prize funds, with $200 for his/her school library. Poetry Out Loud awards a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends at the National Finals, with $20,000 awarded to the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

The public is invited to watch the livestream of the National Finals April 25, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at Follow and tag Poetry Out Loud using #POL2018, @PoetryOutLoud.

About the Maryland State Arts Council
Founded in 1967, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) is celebrating 50 years of service to the arts.  As an agency of the State of Maryland Department of Commerce, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, it encourages and invests in the advancement of the arts for all Marylanders. Its grants and programs support artists and arts organizations in their pursuit of artistic excellence, ensure the accessibility of the arts to all citizens, and promote statewide awareness of arts resources and opportunities. MSAC awards grants to not-for-profit, tax-exempt organizations and individual artists, and provides technical and advisory assistance to individuals and groups. The agency is funded by an annual appropriation from the State of Maryland and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. MSAC may also receive contributions from private, non-governmental sources. Maryland State Arts Council grantees generate more than $1.3 billion in economic activity and support over 16,600 jobs and $56 million in state and local tax revenue. (Economic Impact of the Arts in Maryland: FY 2016) For more information, go to

About the NEA
Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to strengthen the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, the publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs. For more information, visit


Photo caption #1: Poetry Out Loud State Champions pose for a photo at the State Finals event held at The Baltimore Museum of Art on Saturday, March 10, 2018. Pictured from left to right: Jeanette Banko, Colonel Richardon High, Caroline County; Kaylor Stroot, Brookewood School, Montgomery County; Kate Maerten, Gerstell Academy, Carroll County; Wansi "Ivy" Huang, Thomas S. Wootton High, Montgomery County; Allison Latham, The King's Christian Academy, St. Mary's County; Faith Rogers, Tuscarora High, Frederick County; Aevin Mayman, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, Washington County (third place winner); Amy Nguyen, Sts. Peter and Paul High, Talbot County (second place winner); Cayla Turner, Indian Creek School, Anne Arundel County (Maryland State Champion). Photo credit: Edwin Remsberg.


Media Contact: 

Janine M. Lis

Marketing and Communications Manager

Maryland State Arts Council

(o) 410 767 6555