Poetry Out Loud:
2018 Kentucky State Finalists


Kiara Jones

Kiara Jones Elizabethtown High School senior Kiara Jones, 16, emerged as the leader of the pack among 16 competitors to win the Poetry Out Loud state championship March 13 at Frankfort’s Grand Theatre.

Sixteen Kentucky high school students represented their respective schools at the poetry recitation contest, 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, one poem each in the first and second round. Poems are selected by the student and their teachers from a selected list of works. Five students were selected to advance to the third and final round, where they recited another prepared poem.

“I feel really excited, and grateful and also a little nervous at the responsibility of having to represent the state at nationals,” Jones said.

Jones’ path to the championship included recitations of “Passing” by Toi Derricotte and “Life in Love” by Robert Browning in the first and second rounds, respectively. She clinched the state title with her interpretation of “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes.

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

MacKenzie Ray

McKenzie Ray Runner-up was MacKenzie Ray of Grant County High School, who recited “Self-Help” by Michael Ryan in the final round. She advanced to the finals with recitations of “Sugar Dada” by J. Allyn Rosser and “The Time I’ve Lost in Wooing” by Thomas Moore.

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





Top five 2018 state finalists:

State champion
Kiara Jones, Elizabethtown High School
“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes
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MacKenzie Ray, Grant County High School
“Self-Help” by Michael Ryan
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Brianna Bradfort, Betsy Layne High School
“I Felt a Funeral in My Brain” by Emily Dickinson
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Suzanne M. Daniels, Allen County-Scottsville High School
“Envy” by Mary Lamb
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Emma Mitmesser, George Rogers Clark High School
“One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII” by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
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Page last updated: February 6, 2019
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