St. Mark’s student will represent Texas at national competition

Eluemunoh will compete in the National Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals on Sunday, May 2.


The 2021 Texas Poetry Out Loud finals were held virtually on February 24, 2021. The Poetry Out Loud recitation contest is a national project of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. This program helps students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. High-school students memorize poems and perform them in competition. In the Texas state finals, sixteen high-school students from across the state competed for a chance to represent the state in the virtual national competition in May for a pool of $50,000 in scholarships for students and cash awards for schools. 


This year’s virtual competition recognized each school winner and featured recorded recitations of the top five finalists. The students, each having first won their school competition, were evaluated on qualities such as articulation, evidence of understanding, accuracy, and overall performance. The event was hosted by internationally renowned Texas poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who is also the national Young People’s Poet Laureate for 2019-2021. The judges for the competition, Aaron Glover, Rodney Gomez, Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, and Leslie Contreras Schwartz, are accomplished Texas poets and performers.


After two rounds, the field was narrowed to five finalists: Elizabeth Barnes, a Houston tenth grader who won the Writers in the Schools open competition; Gabriel Brock, a student at Goose Creek Memorial High School; Samuel Eluemunoh, who attends St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas; Sonika Harish, a student at Lewisville’s Harmon High School; and Princess Ogiemwonyi, from the Hockaday School in Dallas. Ultimately, Samuel Eluemunoh won the 2021 Poetry Out Loud state final. As state champion, he will receive $200 and will represent Texas at the national level. Additionally, his school will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books and materials. The Texas runner up was Elizabeth Barnes. She will receive $100, while Writers in the Schools will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books and materials.


Eluemunoh will compete in the National Poetry Out Loud Competition via prerecorded recitations. The POL National Semifinals will stream as a one-time webcast on Sunday, May 2 on The fifty-five state and territory winners are divided into three semifinals. Eluemunoh’s semifinal will stream starting at 5 p.m.  


Learn more about the annual Poetry Out Loud competition here.