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Jonesborough teen wins Poetry Out Loud at state level, heading to nationals

From a competitive field of more than 1,500 students across the state, Whitney Baxter, a junior at Providence Academy, has received the title of 2013 Poetry Out Loud Tennessee State Champion.
The state finals were held at the Tennessee Governor’s Residence on March 2. Baxter recited three poems as part of the competition: “I Carry Your Heart (I Carry it in)” by E. E. Cummings; “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain (340)” by Emily Dickenson; and “Poor Angels” by Edward Hirsch.
Baxter, who is the daughter of Don and Kerri Baxter, of Jonesborough, is thrilled to be representing Tennessee at the national level.
“I love reciting these poems. When I am on stage, I feel I am right where I am supposed to be,” she said. “There is no other feeling like it. I can’t wait to get on that stage at nationals and give it all I’ve got!”
Baxter’s final recitation was “Poor Angels,” a poem about a soul not wanting to leave its worldly body.
Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational material and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country.
Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the Nationals Finals in Washington, D.C. An estimated 365,000 students take part in the annual competiton.
Baxter received an award of $1,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship, which takes place next month.
In addition, Providence Academy School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.