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Michigan senior wins poetry contest

OKEMOS — Michigan Humanities and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs announce that Madison Ganzak, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, is the 2021 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion. Madison’s Poetry Out Loud teachers at Roosevelt High School are Rob Keast and Warren Baker.

The first runner-up is Elaiyna Schwartzkopf, from Calvary Baptist Academy in Midland. The second runner-up is Tyler Zolynsky, from Riverview Community High School in Riverview. The third runner-up is Catelyn Danckaert, from Black River Public School in Holland.

The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Twenty students representing their high schools and nonprofit organizations participated in the Poetry Out Loud State Finals, which were streamed via Zoom on the evening of March 11.

Poetry Out Loud starts in a high school classroom or at the local level with an area organization. Winners then advance to the state competition, and ultimately to the national level. For the virtual Michigan State Finals, contestants recited works they memorized from an anthology of more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems.

Ganzak recited “Violins” by Rowan Ricardo Phillips, “Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy” by Thomas Lux, and “[‘Often rebuked, yet always back returning’]” by Emily Bronte.

“I am so grateful for Poetry Out Loud, and I am thrilled to represent Michigan at Nationals,” Ganzak said. “At a time in my life when nothing has been normal, I got to do something that I love and share that love with others! Amazing teachers made this possible for me — Thank you, Mr. Keast and Mr. Baker, along with everyone involved at POL.”

Ganzak will receive a $1,200 cash award, and Roosevelt High School will receive a $1,500 stipend to support poetry materials and resources. Ganzak will compete in the national finals, held virtually in May 2021. Students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa will provide video submissions for this semi-finals competition, which will be broadcast on Sunday, May 2, at arts.gov. The top nine students will move on to the finals competition, to be broadcast on Thursday, May 27, at arts.gov. The Poetry Out Loud national finals will present a total of $50,000 in awards and school/organization stipends, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

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