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Contact: Meredith Beatrice, 850.245.6522

Florida’s Poetry Out Loud Champion Competes at National Finals

~ Jarod Atchley represents Florida and Ocala’s West Port High School ~

Tallahassee –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner today congratulates Jarod Atchley of West Port High School in Ocala, winner of Florida’s Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, as he competes at the nation’s largest youth poetry recitation competition in Washington, D.C.  (May 3-4).

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, who also serves as Florida’s Chief Cultural Officer. "We congratulate Jarod Atchley on advancing to the national competition and know his hard work and talent will represent Florida well. I’d also like to recognize and thank all of the Florida students who participated in this year’s state competition.”

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that encourages high school students around the country to learn classic and contemporary poetry through a recitation competition that culminates with the national finals. Florida’s state competition was presented in March by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs in conjunction with the Florida Humanities Council.

Fifty-three state champions will face off at nationals, after advancing from a field of more than 317,000 competitors in every state, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They will vie for the title of National Champion and a $20,000 prize. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be awarded to the top nine finalists and their schools. The Poetry Out Loud national finals are free and are being hosted by poet Elizabeth Acevedo and feature a performance by hip-hop artist and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon.

Competition Schedule  

The Poetry Out Loud semifinals will be on Tuesday, May 3, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm at Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC. Nine finalists will advance to the national finals, also held at Lisner Auditorium, on Wednesday, May 4, from 7:00 to 9:15 pm. Both events are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.

Live Webcast and Viewing Parties

Poetry fans who can’t attend the live event can cheer on their state champions with a live, one-time only webcast of both the semifinals and the finals.  Make it social by organizing a Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing Party. Register at and find tips on hosting your party, promotional materials, and details on other viewing parties around the country. Follow the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POL16. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit or call 202.682.5606.




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 Florida Department of State’s 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, visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016.