3/4 body portrait of Rebecca Wisniewski - 2021 Poetry Out Loud Winner holding her plaque and certificate in front of a red curtain

From a field of 10 Delaware high school students, Rebecca Wisniewski, a senior from Milford High School, earned the title of 2021 Poetry Out Loud Delaware State Champion at the state finals held virtually on March 2, 2021. The first runner-up was Lia Dougherty, from Sanford School, and the second runner-up was Janelle Carter from Delaware Valley Classical School in New Castle.

Rebecca is a member of the school drama club and has acted in plays and musicals for years.  She unexpectedly found that learning poetry has made her a better performer in general, stating, “you have to put yourself in the background – while you are forming a deeper connection to the pieces.  Reciting a poem means you have to pull from your emotions.  It’s about being self-aware, even while forming a deep connection to the voices in the poems.”  Ms. Wisniewski also took part in Poetry Out Loud previously in her junior year.

Wisniewski chose poems this year with very different energies.  “Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert, which Wisniewski calls “a tricky poem,” challenged her with its seeming sarcasm about a somber subject – domestic abuse.  “I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain” by Emily Dickinson felt manic and mournful, and “has so much room inside it to perform.”  Her favorite, “How to Triumph Like a Girl” by Ada Limón, was, in Rebecca’s words, “fun, upbeat and has a positive message.”  The full poem can be found on the Poetry Foundation’s website.  All of the poems scored high marks with the judges.

For her winning presentation, Wisniewski will receive $200 and will compete at the National Semifinals which will be held virtually on Sunday, May 2 beginning at noon on the National Endowment for the Arts website.  Milford High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials for its school library. Lia Dougherty, the first runner-up will receive $100, and Sanford School will receive $200 for its school library.

The Poetry Out Loud state competition, sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts 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.


2021 Poetry Out Loud

Delaware State Competition, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, held virtually

Participating Students

Janelle Carter
Lia Dougherty
Julie Griswold
Shalom Ighodaro
Taylor Jenkins

Praise McConomy
Katelynne Megginson
Ty’Leigha Owens
Ruth Praveen
Rebecca Wisniewski

Participating High Schools

Delaware Valley Classical School
Sanford School
Tatnall School
MOT High School
Seaford Senior High School

Red Lion Christian Academy
Sussex Central High School
Woodbridge Senior High School
Mount Sophia Academy
Milford Senior High School

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