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Contact: Katie Kole

Baxter Murrell selected as Florida Poetry Out Loud State Champion

Murrell to compete at National Competition in April

Tallahassee –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced today the winners of the State Finals of the 2015 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 February 28, 2015 in Tallahassee.

“Poetry Out Loud gives our high school students the opportunity to work on public speaking skills while building confidence and learning about poetry,” said Secretary of State Detzner, Florida’s Chief Cultural Officer. “The participants in the Florida finals represent just a fraction of the students impacted by this valuable program, and we are pleased to have students participating from all across the state.”

First place was awarded to Baxter Murrell a junior at Winter Park High School in Orange County. Murrell 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 – 29. In addition, the state champion will receive a $200 cash prize, and Winter Park High will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.


Florida Poetry Out Loud 2015 State Champion Baxter Murrell

Second place was awarded to Jillian Miley. Miley will receive a $100 cash prize and Spruce Creek High, in Volusia County, receives $200 for their poetry collection.

Third place was awarded to Monique Manalang Ruiz from Miami Arts Charter School and this year’s director’s choice award, The Muse Award, was presented to Tatiana Saleh of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

Judges for the contest included Joann Gardner, Maxine Montgomery, and James Kimbrell of Florida State University, former Auburn professor Janet Mauney, and Kathleen Laufenberg a writer and editor with FSU Magnetic Field Lab and The Apalachee Review. 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 Publix, 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