Maine State Final: Photos and Video
Maine State Final: Photos and Video header image

Gabrielle Cooper 2017 Maine State POL Champion


Gabrielle Cooper is the 2017 Maine State Champion 

The Maine Arts Commission is proud to announce Gabrielle Cooper, a senior at Gardiner Area High School as the 2017 State Poetry Out Loud Champion. The State Runner-up is Natalie Lisnet, a senior from Bangor High School. Both students will receive cash awards and their schools will receive prize money to purchase poetry books for their libraries.

After rising to the top in classroom, school wide and regional level competitions, 10 state finalists gathered at the Waterville Opera House in Waterville to recite three rounds of poetry from memory. All 10 contestants recited two poems before intermission, at which time the panel of four judges selected five finalists. In the final round of five, Gabrielle Cooper was ultimately selected as state champion and will represent the State of Maine at the National Poetry Out Loud Finals in Washington, D.C., April 24-26, 2017.

Cooper impressed a panel of judges to become the 2017 State Champion by reciting three poems during the competition: “The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Please Don’t” by Tony Hoagland, and “To be of use" by Marge Piercy. Of Cooper's third poem, she said, "It is about the value of hard work and how nice it is to see progress in your efforts."

Jennifer Rooks, public affairs host and producer at Maine Public was the master of ceremonies for the event at the Waterville Opera House. The event also featured music from the Maranacook Chamber Singers and a reading by Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum. "I think that when a poem works and a poet gets to the point where he or she wants to get, it's because they made a discovery in their work," Kestenbaum said while speaking to the finalists during the program. "I think when you spoke those poems, you were making that same discovery in the words that the poet made." Kestenbaum presented signed copies of his book of poems Only Now to all the finalists.

The Maine Arts Commission congratulates and thanks all of the students who made the 2017 Maine Poetry Out Loud Finals an amazing event.

Maine Poetry Out Loud State Finalists: (left to right): Emma Beyor, Kate Hodgson, Amran Mahamed, Skyler Vaughn, Arielle Leeman, Antyna Gould, Gabrielle Cooper, Natalie Lisnet, Jordan Bryant and Sabrina Small.

Maine State Champion
Gabrielle Cooper, Grade 12, Gardiner Area High School

Maine State Runner-Up
Natalie Lisnet, Grade 12, Bangor High School

State Finalists
Antyna Gould, Grade 12, Medomak Valley High School
Arielle Leeman, Grade 12, Morse High School
Amran Mahamed, Grade 11, Deering High School

Regional Finalists
Emma Beyor, Grade 12, Erskine Academy
Jordan Bryant, Grade 10, Greely High School
Kate Hodgson, Grade 12, Camden Hills Regional High School
Sabrina Small, Grade 12, Maine Coast Waldorf School
Skyler Vaughn, Grade 12, The Maine Girls’ Academy 

For more information about Poetry Out Loud, and for how your school can participate next year, visit this site or contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission at vog.eniam@rotsen.ygra. Videos of the Poetry Out Loud state and regional finals will be made available on the Maine Arts Commission Youtube and Facebook page:


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