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Cambridge High School Student Wins 2016 Poetry Out Loud State Championship

State Champion will represent Georgia at National Finals in Washington, D.C. | 03/29/2016


ATLANTA, March 29, 2016 — This week the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) announced the winner of the 2016 Poetry Out Loud state competition. Marta Palombo, a senior at Cambridge High School in Milton, Ga., took home the first place prize at the state finals. Marta will represent Georgia at the national finals in Washington, D.C., May 2 – 4.

“Poetry Out Loud is a remarkable program that connects Georgia’s youth with incredible works of poetry and inspires confidence in public speaking – a critical skill for future success,” said Karen Paty, executive director of Georgia Council for the Arts. “We strongly believe in the role of the arts in educating our youth and we are grateful to our partners, NEA and the Atlanta History Center, for their support and for continuing to grow student participation and the quality of this program in Georgia’s high schools.”

Poetry Out Loud is a national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation which encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization and recitation of the written word. Georgia’s Poetry Out Loud champion receives $200 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Her school will also be presented with a $500 certificate that will go towards new books. The Poetry Out Loud runner-up, Joshua Sands-Lee, a freshman at Perry High School in Perry, Ga., receives $100 from the NEA, and $200 for new books for his school.

“The state final round was full of surprises for me,” said Palombo. “There were so many amazing competitors, the last thing I expected was to make it to the finals, let alone win. I went in hoping to hear beautiful interpretations of poetry and have fun, and somehow on top of all that I qualified for nationals. I was so happy!”

Started in 2005 as a pilot program in Chicago and Washington, D.C., Poetry Out Loud has grown to involve millions of students from across the country.

This is the eighth year that Atlanta History Center’s Margaret Mitchell House has been selected by Georgia Council for the Arts to coordinate the state’s Poetry Out Loud competition. Georgia’s participation includes:

  • 88 schools in 45 counties
  • Over 13,000 students
  • More than 450 teachers

“Poetry Out Loud has become a valued part of the Atlanta History Center’s Margaret Mitchell House programming,” said Emily Cobb, Poetry Out Loud State Coordinator at the Atlanta History Center. “It goes hand in hand with the literary lecture series, the youth educational programs such as the summer writing camps, as well as the daily visitor experience. These all are vital in the promotion of opening the world of the Arts to high school students across our state.”

If your school would like to get involved with Poetry Out Loud, please contact Emily Cobb at [email protected] or call 404.814.4017.  For more information about Poetry Out Loud, please visit

About Georgia Council for the Arts

Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) is a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development whose mission is to cultivate the growth of vibrant, thriving Georgia communities through the arts.  GCA provides grant funding, programs and services statewide that support the vital arts industry, preserve the state’s cultural heritage, increase tourism and nurture strong communities.  Funding for Georgia Council for the Arts is provided by appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About the Atlanta History Center and the Margaret Mitchell House

Founded in 1926, the Atlanta History Center is an all-inclusive, thirty-three-acre destination featuring the Atlanta History Museum, one of the nation’s largest history museums; two historic houses, the 1928 Swan House and the 1860 Smith Family Farm; the Centennial Olympic Games Museum; the Kenan Research Center; the Grand Overlook event space; Chick-Fil-A at the Coca-Cola Café, a museum shop, and the Goizuetta Gardens, featuring 22 acres of gardens, walkways, paths and trails. In addition, the History Center operates the Margaret Mitchell House located in Midtown Atlanta.



Emily Murray
Communications Specialist
Georgia Department of Economic Development
[email protected]