This is from associate director of education Lynne Johnson:
I wanted to fill you in on the "Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud experience" for this year. Our State Champion, Wilmene Hercule, handled herself with great poise and talent, completely holding her own in the semi-finals in Washington DC. So much so, she made it to the third round.
She was truly wonderful and Massachusetts can be extremely proud of her as representative of our state.
Audience members around me, who were made up of teachers, parents and States Arts Agencies, were totally in awe of the fact that Wilmene was only 15 years old and genuinely loved her performance.
The contest was amazing, as usual, and I think the bar was raised again this year. I certainly felt that Wilmene was definitely in her element and for such a young age, did a tremendous job. I felt extremely proud.
Her mother Marie, and teacher from Prospect Hill Academy, also attended.
A highlight this year was hearing singer Natalie Merchant sing three songs which were based on three poems from poets which she was commissioned to put to music. She has an album with more of them coming out soon. The songs were beautiful and I urge you to get the c.d. when it comes out.
We were also fortunate to meet Tyne Daly who was a judge this year. It was more exciting for me than Wilmene, I'm afraid. I don't think Wilmene knew who she was, but I introduced her as one of the youngest contestants and Tyne was very nice to Wilmene and I.
All in all, I was glad that I was able to go and represent the Mass State Partners. I took home some great ideas at the State Arts Agency meeting for next year, and I think we can only continue to grow.
Enjoy the picture and I hope you join us for Poetry Out Loud next season.
For more information about Poetry Out Loud visit huntingtontheatre.org