2021 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion announced

Madison Ganzak, 2021 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion
Madison Ganzak, 2021 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion(Jennifer Deckert\ | Jennifer Deckert Photography)
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 8:53 PM EST
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OKEMOS, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan Humanities and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs announces that Madison Ganzak, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, is the 2021 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion.

Madison Ganzak will receive a $1,200 cash award, and Roosevelt High School will receive a $1,500 stipend to support poetry materials and resources. Madison will compete in the national finals in May 2021. Students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa will provide video submissions for this semi-finals competition, which will be broadcast on Sunday, May 2, 2021, at The top nine students will move on to the finals competition, to be broadcast on Thursday, May 27, 2021, again at

The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

List of runner-ups

  • The first runner-up is Elaiyna Schwartzkopf, from Calvary Baptist Academy in Midland
  • The second runner-up is Tyler Zolynsky, from Riverview Community High School in Riverview
  • The third runner-up is Catelyn Danckaert, from Black River Public School in Holland

Poetry Out Loud starts in a high school classroom or at the local level with an area organization. Winners then advance to the state competition, and ultimately to the national level. For the virtual Michigan State Finals, contestants recited works they memorized from an anthology of more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems.

During the 2020-21 school year, nearly 80 teachers and 3,800 students took part in Michigan. At Michigan’s virtual competition, five judges assessed the students’ recitations based on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy.

The 2021 Michigan Poetry Out Loud judging panel included:

• Laura Apol, Associate Professor at Michigan State University and Lansing-area poet laureate

• Lyndon DeFoe, a political science student at Stanford University and 2016 POL State Champion

• Chad Swan-Badgero, Arts Education Program Manager at the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

• Russell Thorburn, author, National Endowment for the Arts recipient, and first poet laureate of the Upper Peninsula

• Divya Victor, author, editor, and Associate Professor of English at Michigan State UniversityIn addition to the recitation contest, Michigan Poetry Out Loud also held an original poetry and artwork competition

The original poetry competition was judged by Melba Joyce Boyd, Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Wayne State University. The artwork contest was judged by a panel of Michigan Humanities staff.

The Poetry Out Loud national finals will present a total of $50,000 in awards and school/organization stipends, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

  • At the statewide level, Elaiyna Schwartzkopf, first runner-up, will receive $600, with $700 for her school.
  • Tyler Zolynsky, second runner-up, will receive $250, and $250 for his school
  • Catelyn Danckaert, third runner-up, will receive $150, and $150 for her school
  • Crishtion King, winner of the original poetry competition, will receive $1,000
  • Isabelle Larou, the first runner-up, will receive $500
  • Aliina Maki-Warne, the second runner-up, will receive $250
  • Maya Lackey, the third runner-up, will receive $150
  • Courtney Larson, artwork contest winner, will receive $500

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