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MANCHESTER — Burr and Burton Academy senior Iren Hangen Vazquez will compete in the Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals on Sunday live on the internet.

The winner of the national championship will earn a $20,000 prize and be crowned the national champion.

Vazquez is one of 55 students competing for the title. She is due to compete in the first semifinal scheduled to begin at noon Sunday, May 2, at and the full finals show will be broadcast at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 27.

Poetry Out Loud is a national program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic poetry recitation competition for high school students.

Students submitted videos of their poetry recitations, which were reviewed and scored by judges with expertise in poetry, performance, and the literary arts.

Vazquez took top honors in the Poetry Out Loud State Finals, held virtually on Vermont PBS’s OVEE platform March 15.

Gavin Ghafoori, a student at St. Johnsbury Academy, was the runner-up from among 16 students who were school champions.

Six judges — all Vermont poets — shared their encouragement for poetry.

You can watch Vazquez’s recitation of “Caminitos” by Carmen Tafolla on the Vermont Arts Council’s Poetry Out Loud web page at

Vazquez received $200 with her state win and advances to the national finals, and Burr and Burton Academy receives $500 for the purchase of poetry materials.

For more information about Vermont Poetry Out Loud including a list of all 2021 participants, visit


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