Conversation: Kristen Dupard, 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion

BY Jeffrey Brown  May 18, 2012 at 2:57 PM EDT

Kristen Dupard; photo by James Kegley

Kristen Dupard of Ridgeland, Miss., performs at the 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest in Washington, D.C., earlier this week. Photo by James Kegley.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of being one of the judges for the national finals of “Poetry Out Loud,” a competition for high schools students from around the country who study, memorize and recite poems. It all begins in the schools and then on up to the state and, finally, the national levels.

According to the sponsors, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation — both, by the way, funders of the NewsHour’s arts and poetry coverage — some 365,000 students took part.

The winner at the end of it all was 18-year-old high school senior Kristen Dupard from Ridgeland, Miss., who received a $20,000 award. I spoke to her earlier today by phone: