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Brittany Lesser

Emily Rodriguez selected as Florida Poetry Out Loud State Champion

Rodriguez to compete at National Competition in April


Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced today the winners of the State Finals of the 2014 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest. A program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, the NEA awards more than $100,000 in prizes to students who memorize and recite poetry. The Poetry Out Loud State Finals, administered by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, took place March 1, 2014 in Tallahassee.

"Poetry Out Loud gives our high school students the opportunity to work on public speaking skills while building a relationship with poetry that can last a lifetime," said Secretary of State Detzner, Florida’s Chief Cultural Officer. "The participants in the Florida finals represent just a fraction of the students affected by this valuable program, and we are pleased to see participation increase each year."

First place was awarded to Emily Rodriguez, a senior at Academy of the Holy Names in Hillsborough County. Rodriguez will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for a total of $50,000 in awards, scholarships and school stipends. The National Finals will be held April 28 – 30. In addition, Rodriguez will receive a $200 cash prize, and Academy of the Holy Names will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

Florida Poetry Out Loud State Champion Emily Rodriguez.

Second place was awarded to Christell Roach, a senior at Miami Arts Charter School in Miami-Dade County. Roach will receive a $100 cash prize and Miami Arts Charter School receives $200 for their poetry collection.

Third place was awarded to Jillian Miley, a sophomore at Spruce Creek High School in Volusia County. Honorable mentions were awarded to Desirae Lee, a senior at Stanton Prepatory School in Duval County and Baxter Murrell, a sophomore at Winter Park High School in Orange County.

Judges for the contest included faculty from the English departments at Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and Tallahassee Community College. Florida literary publisher Anhinga Press supplied the contestants with a sampling of Florida poetry anthologies to take home. Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc. sponsored hospitality and refreshments for the students. Other sponsors included The Apalachee Review, The Egg Express, Habana Boardwalk, and Quality Inn & Suites Tallahassee.

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About Poetry Out Loud
The Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry, recitation and performance. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. For further information regarding Poetry Out Loud, visit

About the Division of Cultural Affairs
The Division of Cultural Affairs is Florida’s legislatively designated state arts agency. The Division promotes the arts and culture as essential to quality of life for all Floridians. To achieve its mission, the Division funds and supports cultural programs that provide artistic excellence, diversity, education, access and economic vitality for Florida’s communities. For more information about the Division and its programs, visit