Broad Ripple High School Student Wins State Poetry Out Loud Contest

Derek C. Kaellner, a senior at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, was named the state champion at the fourth annual Indiana Poetry Out Loud competition held February 28th, 2009 at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library’s Clowes Auditorium.

Mr. Kaellner’s 3rd round recitation of Ezra Pounds’ “The River Merchant’s Wife:  A Letter” won him a $200 cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Indiana during the National Poetry Out Loud finals April 28-29.  Kaellner will compete among 53 high school students from every state, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.  Students taking part in the national competition will have a chance to win a $20,000 scholarship prize.  Kaellner also secured a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books for Broad Ripple High School’s library.

“We were pleased to have statewide representation at this year’s Indiana Poetry Out Loud competition, including students from Plymouth, Carmel, Whitestown, Knightstown, South Bend, Ellettsville, Columbus and Warsaw,” said IAC Executive Director Lewis C. Ricci.  “We wish Derek Kaellner all the best as he prepares to compete in the national competition.”

Second place was awarded to Keianna Whatley, a junior at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.  Miss Whatley was awarded a $100 cash prize and a $200 stipend for her school’s library.  Elise Lockwood from University High School in Carmel was awarded third place.

Judges of the state competition included Emily Bobo, Assistant Professor, English, Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington; Sarah Fronczek, Indiana Department of Education; Norbert Krapf, Indiana Poet Laureate; and Lawren Mills, Policy Director for Human Services, Office of Governor Mitch Daniels.  Pianist Monika Herzig from Bloomington provided entertainment between rounds.

The Indiana Arts Commission coordinated the state poetry recitation contest through funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Poetry Foundation as part of the federal agency’s national Poetry Out Loud program.  The project is designed to encourage youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, which helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and internalize an appreciation for American literary heritage.

Indiana high schools interested in participating in the 2010 Indiana Poetry Out Loud competition are encouraged to contact Indiana Arts Commission’s Arts Education Coordinator Susan Britsch at (317) 232-1281 or    

On behalf of the people of Indiana, the Indiana Arts Commission advocates engagement with the arts to enrich the quality of individual and community life.