Congratulations, Samara Huggins! #POL17

We want to extend our congratulations to Samara Huggins, this year’s national Poetry Out Loud champion! Huggins went to Washington, DC to compete as Georgia’s state champion. According to

To earn the Georgia award, Huggins beat out thousands of students from more than 88 schools in Georgia. She recited “Novel” by Arthur Rimbaud, “Dream Song 14” by John Berryman, and “The Farmer” by W.D. Erhart in three successive rounds at the state competition.

Huggins is a senior at Whitefield Academy in Mableton, Georgia. She received first place in her school’s competition in January, then won the state competition in March. This was her “fourth consecutive year” representing her school in the state finals of Poetry Out Loud.

In addition to her victory in the Poetry Out Loud program, Samara Huggins has also been honored for both for her art and her writing in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

In recent years, students from the South have fared well in the Poetry Out Loud competition. The winner in 2016 was from Virginia, 2014’s winner came from Tennessee, and Youssef Biaz from Alabama took the top prize in 2011.

Alabama’s Two-Time Winner!

Raina Verser is now a two-time state winner of Poetry Out Loud (POL) in Alabama! She attends New Century Technology High School in Huntsville, Alabama

During our brief interview, she explained to me that she only competed in the anthology portion of the competition, though I asked Verser about what inspires her to write. She replied, “Many things inspire me, but some examples are nature, introspection, and people.”

I also asked, “How did it feel to win two years in a row?”

She exclaimed, ” I’m very excited about the chance to represent Alabama in the national Poetry Out Loud competition again! Competing at the national level last year was an incredible experience. I learned a lot from it and I’m thrilled to go back.”

At the end of our interview, I gave Raina Verser a free-fall question to say anything she wanted, whether it was an inspirational quote or just something she wanted our newsprung readers to know.

“When I was a sophomore and I competed in my school’s Poetry Out Loud competition for the first time, I never expected the amazing experience that followed. Poetry Out Loud has not only helped me discover my love of poetry and meet new people, but it has also given me confidence. My biggest takeaway from the Poetry Out Loud competition is this: if you’re passionate about something, pursue it. You never know how far it will take you,” Versa said.

Good Job and Congratulations, Raina!

The Poetry Out Loud program encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.