High school junior wins state ‘Poetry Out Loud’ championship

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Wilbur D. Mills University Studies High School junior Katelyn Doyne is the 2021 Arkansas Poetry Out Loud State Champion.

Katelyn performed “Song of the Smoke” by W.E.B. DuBois, “I Look at the World” by Langston Hughes, and “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. She competed against poets from six other schools across the state.

Katelyn Doyne

Poetry Out Loud is a free, high school program that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about poetry through memorization and recitation. The program helps students build self-confidence, develop public-speaking skills, and learn literary history.

“In the state competition, as student videos were played back and evaluated by all of us on the stream, I was overwhelmed by how positive the reception to Katelyn’s first poem was,” said Competitive Speech Coach Mr. Patrick Laxson. “She reached them like she reached me, and from that moment on, I knew she could be a contender. You feel her poetic intensity on a visceral level when she speaks. She believes in poetry as a true extension of herself, and with persistent preparation, she will be a force to be reckoned with on the national level.”

The Arkansas Arts Council, a division of Arkansas Heritage, has partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to encourage students to learn great poetry and develop real-world skills. 

With this win, Katelyn advances to the National Semifinals Competition on May 2 to compete against 18 students. The winner advances to the National Finals on May 27. The competition will be streamed live at arts.gov.