Anita Norman, a student at Arlington High School, won the national Poetry Out Loud competition held in Washington DC this year. She beat out 365,000 other participants to earn the $20,000 award.
She won the competition for a recitation of the poem “Let the Light Enter” by Ellen Watkins Harper, a poet born in 1825 who has been described as the “mother of African-American journalism” for her frequent writing in anti-slavery newspapers.
She also recited a poem by Robert Hayden’s “Mourning Poem of the Queen of Sunday”, which she said reminded her of her own experiences in church.
“Wsaid to one of the event organizers. “I liked that when I said this poem, no matter where I am or what I’m thinking about, I feel like I’m at home.”
Norman credited a communications class she took at school with inspiring her to want to take her love of reading and turn it into performance.
Just 53 students were invited to the final competition in Washington D.C. on April 29, one from every state and territory and only nine made it to the final day on April 30.