On April 23, Shakira Cross will take off from Columbia, Missouri, for Washington, D.C., to embark on the national finals of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.
As Missouri state champion, Ms. Cross will vie for the title of national champion with the 52 other state and territorial champions. She won her Missouri championship at the state finals in Jefferson City on March 7. She rose to this top spot from more than 4,000 other Missouri high school students who competed in a pyramid structure of contests starting at the classroom level, then school-wide, then regional. Ms. Cross is the champion of the Missouri Central Region.
Persistence paid off for Ms. Cross, a 17-year-old senior at Hickman High School. She was also the Central Region’s champion in 2016.
As state champion, Ms. Cross receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the finals for herself and an adult chaperone. Hickman High School receives $500 for the purchase of poetry books.
The first Missouri runner-up was 18-year-old Ann Truka, a senior at Parkway West High School in Ballwin. She receives $100, with $200 for her school.
The national finals include the Welcome Banquet on April 23, three rounds of semi-finals on April 24, and the Congressional Breakfast and final round on April 25. Missouri poetry fans can cheer on Ms. Cross with a live, one-time only webcast of both the semifinals and the finals. Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using #POL18 and #iampoetryoutloud. She will begin her first poem at noon Central Time on Tuesday, April 24. She is the first contestant in the semi-finals’ Round 2, the Midwest and South Central region.
Ms. Cross takes to Washington the three poems with which she won the Missouri championship: Poem for Haruko by June Jordan, The Ocean by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and There are Birds Here by Jamaal May.
Watch the videos of the 2018 Missouri State Finals
Introductions and Round 1 – Shakira Cross performs at 27:46, Poem for Haruko by June Jordan
Round 2 – Shakira Cross, 1:26, The Ocean by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Round 3 and Awards – Shakira Cross, 00:00, There are Birds Here by Jamaal May