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Watch Zamyia's performance.
Zamyia Felton of West Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte won the Poetry Out Loud competition Saturday with her interpretations of several poems including Nikki Giovanni's Walking Down Park. Felton, the first place winner, will be on her way to Washington for the national finals on April 27.
"Zamyia Felton radiated power and confidence in her poetry recitations," said Mimi Herman, who coordinates the competition for the N.C. Arts Council. "She has a gift for making the classic seem contemporary and the contemporary classic."
"The 26 students competing in this year's Poetry Out Loud amazed us all," Herman said. "Throughout the day, I was stunned by their understanding of the poems they chose and their ability — with brilliance and subtlety — to share that understanding with both audience and judges. We're very lucky to have such talent and dedication in North Carolina."
The second place winner was Maggie Jordan of North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham.
More than 6,000 students across North Carolina participated in some level of the recitation program, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.
Poetry Out Loud is a national initiative to encourage high school students to memorize and recite poetry while mastering public speaking skills and building self-confidence.
The semifinals and the final competition were held March 6 at the North Carolina Museum of History in the auditorium. Students participated from private and public schools as far away as Jackson and Swain counties in the mountains to Dare County on the coast.
Students first participate at the school level. Winners from the schools advance to the state level competition. Winners at the state level receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national championship. State winners' schools also receive a $500 stipend to be used for purchasing poetry books. The runners-up at the state level receive $100, with their schools receiving a $200 stipend for buying poetry books. The NEA plans to award more than $50,000 in scholarships and stipends at the national finals for winners and their schools.