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State Historical Society of Iowa

Sioux City Students Sweep 2018 Poetry Out Loud in Iowa State Finals

Mar 5, 2018

DES MOINES – Sioux City students made a clean sweep of the 2018 Poetry Out Loud in Iowa state finals competition Sunday with Sarah Beumler of Sioux City Heelan, Grace Kiple of LAMB School of Theatre and Music, and Elise Sturgeon of Sioux City North taking the top three spots.

Beumler won this year's competition with recitations of "From Blossoms" by Li-Young Lee, "Very Large Moth" by Craig Arnold and "Ode" by Arthur O'Shaughnessy. Kiple, who won last year's competition, took second place while Sturgeon finished in third place. The contest was held at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.

With the victory, Beumler receives a $200 cash prize, $500 for her school to purchase poetry books and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she will represent Iowa in the Poetry Out Loud National Finals April 23-25. Students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will compete for the national championship and $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends.

This year, 1,200 students in Iowa participated in Poetry Out Loud programs at school and district levels, memorizing and reciting poems in front of their classmates and judges. The experience helps them develop public-speaking and critical-thinking skills that will last a lifetime.

Created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, the program is overseen in Iowa by the Iowa Arts Council. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation provide state arts agencies free, standards-based curriculum materials for use by participating schools, including an on line poetry anthology and a program guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance.

Student competitors are judged on accuracy, physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, evidence of understanding and overall performance. This year's judges were Iowa Artist Fellow Akwi Nji of Cedar Rapids, Andrea Wilson of the Iowa Writers' House in Iowa City and Evan Hilsabeck of the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts in Coralville.

Overall, more than 300,000 students across the country participated in the program this year.

A list of Iowa’s past Poetry Out Loud state champions follows:

  • 2017 - Grace Kiple of Sioux City's LAMB School of Theatre and Music
  • 2016 - Grace Beumler of Sioux City Heelan
  • 2015 - Josie Kasik of Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School
  • 2014 - Josie Everett of Sioux City’s LAMB School of Theatre and Music
  • 2013 - Dakota Meyer of the Iowa School for the Deaf
  • 2012 - Gwen Morrison of Marshalltown High School
  • 2011 - Grace Rants of Sioux City East High School
  • 2010 - John-Emmett Mahon of Sioux City’s PeaceMakers Academy
  • 2009 - Mia Pierson of Roland-Story
  • 2008 - Emily Mortvedt of Roland-Story
  • 2007 - Spencer Gilbert of West Des Moines Valley
  • 2006 - Ashley Baccam of Des Moines East

The Iowa Arts Council is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.