CCT: Commission on Culture & Tourism Announces Winner of Poetry Out Loud State Finals



Edwin Carbajal of Wilton High School Voted State Champion;

Dylan Arcelli of Rockville High School Named Runner-up


HARTFORD, Conn. (March 18, 2010) – Edwin Carbajal, a senior at Wilton High School in Wilton, was named champion of Connecticut’s 5th Annual Poetry Out Loud State Finals competition on March 16 at the Carol Autorino Center in West Hartford. The competition was presented by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT), in partnership with the Carol Autorino Center for Arts and Humanities and the Connecticut State Department of Education.

During the state finals, 25 contestants from high schools across the state recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 400 classic and contemporary poems. The 25 contestants were each named champion of his or her own school.  As winner of the state competition, Carbajal was awarded $200, and $500 was donated to Wilton High School for the purchase of poetry books. Dylan Arcelli, a senior at Rockville High School, was voted runner-up and received $100, plus $200 was donated to his school library.

Among the top five finishers were also Evan DeFrancesco, a sophomore at Daniel Hand High School (Madison); Malaine Thorpe, a junior at Pathways to Technology Magnet School (Hartford); and Niya Wright, a sophomore at Darien High School. 

Poetry Out Loud, a national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to the school-wide competition, then progress to the state finals and, ultimately, to the national finals in Washington, D.C.

This year, more than 6,400 students across Connecticut participated in the program.  “The level of commitment and passion among these young men and women is astounding,” said Karen Senich, CCT’s Executive Director, “it is humbling to see how elegantly these students embrace poetry, competition and each other.”

Mr. Carbajal will compete in the national finals in Washington D.C. April 25-27 where a total of $50,000 in scholarship prizes and school stipends will be awarded, including $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists. The remaining nine finalists each receive $1,000 and the schools of the top 12 finalists each receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

“I’m so excited for this wonderful opportunity,” shared Carbajal.  This was his first time participating in the Poetry Out Loud program.  Born in Honduras, raised in the Bronx and educated in Wilton, Carbajal loves music and plays clarinet.  He also serves as his school’s Executive Vice-President and is a veteran of poetry slams.

As part of Poetry Out Loud, CCT provided professional development for participating teachers in the fall; placed teaching artists in many of the participating schools; and offered an all-day School Champion workshop for school champions, first runner-ups and their teachers.

Judges at the Connecticut Poetry Out Loud State Finals were Dennis Barone, Professor of English and American Studies at Saint Joseph College; Lonnie Black, Connecticut poet and educator; Ellen Brodie, Professor & Director of Theatre at Eastern Connecticut State University; and John Wadhams, Executive Director of Woods Memorial Library in South Windsor and President of the Connecticut Concert Opera Connecticut.  The evening’s host was Pit Pinegar, Connecticut poet, performer and teacher at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. Other distinguished guests included Harriet Feldlaufer, chief, Bureau of Teaching and Learning for the Connecticut Department of Education, and CCT Executive Director, Karen Senich.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The NEA is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts – both new and established – bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education.  Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest national funder of the arts, bringing great arts to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience.  The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.  For more information, please visit

About the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism brings together tourism, history and the arts. Its mission is to preserve and promote Connecticut’s cultural and tourism assets in order to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the state. For more information, log on to

About the Saint Joseph College
Founded in 1932 by the Sisters of Mercy to provide higher education opportunities for women, Saint Joseph College is a four-year undergraduate college serving women from diverse backgrounds and religious traditions. Responsive to the evolving educational needs of the community, SJC also offers both women and men graduate degree programs in many fields, a Weekend Program for Adult Learners, professional certificate programs relevant to today’s workforce, and other continuing education opportunities.


Karen Senich
Executive Director
Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
(860) 256-2727 (Leigh Johnson)

An-Ming Truxes
Arts Division Director
Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
(860) 256-2722