Poetry Out Loud:
2017 Kentucky State Finalists


Haley Bryan

Haley Bryan Grant County High School senior Haley Bryan earned her second state champion title March 7 at the Kentucky Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Frankfort.

Twenty Kentucky high school students represented their respective schools on the Grand Theatre stage at the poetry recitation contest, which is sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Each student is judged on the recitation, from memory, of two poems, which are selected by the student and their teachers from a preapproved list of works. Five students were selected to advance to the third and final round, where they recited another prepared poem.

“I do it to enjoy it. I don’t really do it to win,” said Bryan, who has participated in the state finals each of her four years in high school, including her first state title in 2015 as a sophomore. “Winning is just kind of a bonus.”

Bryan’s path to the championship included recitations of “Please Don’t” by Tony Hoagland and “Self-Portrait” by Chase Twitchell in the first and second rounds, respectively. She clinched the state title with her interpretation of “Hap” by Thomas Hardy. She will represent Kentucky at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, April 25-26 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to an all-expense paid trip for herself and a chaperone to the national finals, Bryan will receive $200, and her school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

Mary Kate Godfrey

Mary Kate Godfrey Runner-up was Mary Kate Godfrey of Elizabethtown High School, who recited “When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats in the final round. She advanced to the finals with recitations of “Drowning in Wheat” by John Kinsella and “Please Don’t” by Tony Hoagland.

As runner-up, Godfrey will receive $100, and her school will receive a $200 stipend.

Top five 2017 state finalists:

State champion
Haley Bryan, Grant County High School
“Hap” by Thomas Hardy
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Mary Kate Godfrey, Elizabethtown High School
“When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats
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Rachel Horn, Betsy Layne High School
“A Poison Tree” by William Blake
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Haley May, Conner High School
“When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats
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Rachel Stinson, Allen County-Scottsville High School
“The Seekers of Lice” by Arthur Rimbaud
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Page last updated: March 22, 2017
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