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2024 Poetry Out Loud State Champion Named

Erik Holmgren, Program Manager

Congratulations to Ailin Sha from Boston Latin School

photo of 3 students holding their Poetry Out Loud trophies
Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud State Champion Ailin Shaw (center), with 2nd place winner Calysa Alba (right), and 3rd place winner Anna Popnikolova (left). Photo: Erik Holmgren.

Yesterday the state finals for the Massachusetts chapter of Poetry Out Loud were held at the Old South Meeting House in Boston. Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest that celebrates the power of the spoken word and a mastery of public speaking skills while cultivating self-confidence and an appreciation of students’ literary heritage as they take poetry from the page to the stage. It’s administered locally by The Huntington Education Department in partnership with Mass Cultural Council and nationally by The Poetry Foundation and National Endowment of the Arts. The state final brought together 16 finalists who represented the winners of local and regional contests that included more than 15,000 participants across the Commonwealth.

Of those 15,000 students and 16 state finalists, the 2024 Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud State Champion is Ailin Sha from Boston Latin School. Her final, winning poem was “Self Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid” by Diane Seuss. Ailin will go on to represent Massachusetts at the National Poetry Out Loud contest in Washington D.C. beginning April 30, 2024. The runner up, and alternate for the national contest is Calysa Alba from Metheun High School and in third place is Ann Popnikolova from Nantucket High School. These three were joined by two other state finalists in the championship round including Maria Zaki from Franklin High School, and Evan Hero from Meridian Academy in Jamaica Plain.

2024 marked the 19th year of the Poetry Out Loud contest in Massachusetts. This year, Massachusetts had the second highest number of students participating in the contest in the United States, trailing only California. Massachusetts was also second in the number of teachers participating in the program, second in the growth of student participants in the program, and first in the number of new teachers participating this year.

We congratulate our state champion Ailin Sha and wish her luck in Washington D.C. in May!

2024 Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud Finalists

  • 1st place: Ailin Sha, Boston Latin School, “Self Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid” by Diane Seuss
  • 2nd place: Calysa Alba, Metheun High School, “The Ocean” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • 3rd place: Anna Popnikolova, Nantucket High School, “One Girl” by Sappho

Additional Finalists

  • Evan Hero, Meridian Academy, “When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman
  • Maria Zaki, Franklin High School, “Hysteria” by Dionisio D. Martinez

Learn More About Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts

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