Sylvia Plath wrote "The blood jet is poetry / There is no stopping it," in her poem "Kindness."

There was simply no stopping Indian Creek senior Cayla Turner, as she jetted to the top of the Poetry Out Loud state championship this month.


Turner was among nine finalists from more than 7,500 Maryland students across 13 counties at the state finals held at the Baltimore Museum of Art on March 10.

Every fall, students select three eligible poems from the Poetry Out Loud website, then analyze and memorize them to present at school competitions. Each school's winner moves on to regionals in February, which consists of three rounds. At the State Finals in March, a panel of four judges evaluates each recitation based on "physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding and overall performance."

Turner recited "Life in a Love" by Robert Browning, "The song of the Feet" by Nikki Giovanni and "Discrimination by Kenneth Rexroth to earn the highest cumulative score at the end of the third round, crowning her the state champion.

Matt McCormick, Indian Creek Associate Head of the Upper School and Dean of Students, said the school is proud of Turner.

"I've heard and watched her recitation of Nikki Giovanni's 'The Song of the Feet' dozens of times, but there was something magical about her recitation at the state competition. Her performance embodied everything Poetry Out Loud is about and what it can achieve through young people reciting poetry. Cayla is a fabulous young woman who is going to do amazing things," McCormick said in a statement from the competition.

Turner will receive $1200 in prize funds from the NEA and MSAC and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Finals, April 23-25 at George Washington University. There, she'll compete for $20,000 awarded to the Poetry Out Loud National Champion. For Turner's state win, Indian Creek will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials.

National finals can be watched via live stream on April 25 at 7 p.m. at poetryoutloud.org.