HHS Library Site For Poetry Out Loud Competition

Competing were Shakayla Alford, Riley Ferrell, Sanjuanita Reyna, and Kesha Burton.

Poetry Out loud 2 web

Pictured are English teacher and Poetry Out Loud sponsor Tarsha Miller-Mans, winner Kesha Burton, and Arts Council Director Achana Jarrett. 


“Batter my heart, three-personed God; for, you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.”

These lines from John Donne’s Holy Sonnet, interpreted by HHS senior Kesha Burton, were the key to winning the second annual Poetry Out Loud competition at Haywood High School on February 16. Each student memorized and presented a poem, then judges from the community scored the performances on accuracy and quality of interpretation. During the scoring process, Mr. Albert Harris entertained the audience by reading his favorite poetry by Langston Hughes.

First-place winner Burton received $100; second place, $75, went to Shakayla Alford; third place, $50, went to Riley Ferrell; and fourth place, $25, went to Sanjuanita Reyna. These prizes were donated by the co-sponsor, Brownsville-Haywood County Arts Council. Kesha and her mentor, HHS English teacher Tarsha Miller-Mans, will travel to Nashville for the statewide competition on March 19, where Burton will have three poems prepared for interpretation.

Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with Tennessee Arts Commission to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.