Mississippi is Making Waves with Poetry

Did you know?

  • Mississippi is the home of the US Poet Laureate AND the Poetry Out Loud National Champion!
  • Mississippi has two nonprofit organizations that sponsor poetry events? The Mississippi Poetry Society (MPS) and the Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG)
  • Contests are offered twice a year by MPS
  • Workshops are offered at least once a year by MWG

Wynne Huddleston with Natasha Trethewey at Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS

Mississippi is really making waves in the ocean of poetry! Not only has State Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey been named our US Poet Laureate, Kristen Dupard has been named 2012  Poetry Out Loud National Champion!

Kristen Dupard

From a competitive field of some 365,000 students nationwide, Kristen Dupard, a senior at Ridgeland High School in Ridgeland, Mississippi, won the title of 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion at the National Finals held in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. With her achievement, Dupard also received a $20,000 award and her high school, Ridgeland High School, received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

The Poetry Out Loud National Finals were held at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C. Dupard was among nine finalists and 53 state champions from across the country who participated in the seventh national poetry recitation contest, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A two-time Mississippi State Champion, Dupard has made two trips to Washington, DC to compete in the national recitation contest. It was her first year to advance from the Poetry Out Loud Semifinals. Dupard’s final recitation for the evening was “Invitation to Love,” a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, widely acknowledged as the first important black poet in American literature. Dupard also recited Philip Levine’s “What Work Is” and Cornelius Eady’s “I’m a Fool to Love You.” Dupard named current U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine’s “What Work Is” as her favorite poem; she found it “especially relevant since so many people have worked hard to get here to the National Finals.”

She recently performed these poems for us at the Mississippi Writers Guild 6th Annual Conference in Jackson, MS. (also see review of the MWG Conference Sessions). I was very impressed with her performance! We are looking forward to hearing her again at the Mississippi Poetry Society Fall Festival in Belhaven, MS on Oct. 20, 2012! And on that subject, this the 80 year anniversary of MPS. Our anthology, Mississippi Milestone, will be on hand at the Fall Festival. Be sure to enter the contests. There are 18 categories plus a free contest for students.  Details are here. Winners will be published in the Mississippi Contest Journal. MPS sponsors contests twice a year in conjunction with the Fall Festival and the Spring Festival. The South Branch of MPS also has a literary contest (details on same site).

Other poetry events include the Mississippi Writers Guild‘s yearly “Experience Poetry” hosted by Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, MS. This event includes a workshop and readings by nationally known poets followed by a panel discussion.

It’s an exciting time for poets in Mississippi!