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Congrats to Wake High School Student Jessica Karlisa!

Cathy Smith Bowers with winner Jessica Karlisa
Cathy Smith Bowers with winner Jessica Karlisa

Our heartiest congratulations go out to Jessica Karlisa, a student at Raleigh Charter School, who won the North Carolina Poetry Out Loud competition Saturday. She is on her way to Washington, D.C. for the national finals starting May 14.

“Jessica’s self-confidence and interpretation of the poems made her stand-out in this year’s competition,” said Banu Valladares, Arts in Education Director for the N.C. Arts Council. “The poems she recited ranged in difficulty – in tone, emotion, language, meaning – and her understanding of every word and line of each poem left the audience with a joy for the language and deeper understanding of the authors’ meaning every time.”

Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word and theater into high school classrooms. Through the program, students can master public speaking skills, increase reading comprehension scores, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

North Carolina Poet Laureate Cathy Smith Bowers of Tryon spent the day with the students (she also read and provided inspiration) and other poets from the state shared their work, including Mark Smith-Soto, Michael Chitwood, Ansel Elkins, and Dasan Ahanu.

Jessica will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals. The state winner’s school library receives $500 for the purchase of poetry books. The state runner-up (Jakia Shanel Propst from St. Stephens High School in Catawba County) receives $100 and their school receives $200 to buy poetry books. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the national finals.

For more information about Poetry Out Loud, click here.