CMU English Professor judges national poetry contest state finals

Recitation program features statewide high school contestants

Department of English, Language and Literature faculty member Robert Fanning helped select the winning poet for the Poetry Out Loud national poetry recitation competition in Lansing March 4.

Nineteen Michigan students competed for the top honors after winning their local high school competitions. Fanning was one of three judges for the day-long competition, which lasts three rounds.

“It’s an honor to judge this competition and a joy to see these talented students lift so many amazing poems off the page and bring them to life,” Fanning said.

In his “Creative Writing: Poetry” course at Central Michigan University, Fanning requires students to recite poems and sees the benefits of that task through building confidence and developing powerful public speaking skills.

Memorizing a poem is only a small part of the competition. Contestants must pay attention to their physical presence and gestures as they recite the poem, their pacing and volume, their articulation, and lastly, provide evidence they understand the poem based on the dramatic appropriateness of their interpretation.

The judges have less than a minute to score each performance, based on that criteria. They selected Glenn Doss, a senior from Melvindale Northern Allen Park School District, as the 2023 Michigan winner. Doss now travels, expenses paid, to Washington DC where he’ll compete in the national semifinals and finals with a chance at winning a $20,000 scholarship.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored through a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Humanities, and the Michigan Arts and Culture Council.

View latest news