Senior Maiss Hussein is the 2024 Delaware Poetry Out Loud winner.

Hodgson’s Maiss Hussein repeats as Delaware Poetry Out Loud champ

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Senior Maiss Hussein is the 2024 Delaware Poetry Out Loud winner.

Senior Maiss Hussein is the 2024 Delaware Poetry Out Loud winner.

Maiss Hussein, a senior at Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School, is once again Delaware’s Poetry Out Loud winner.

She went back-to-back, winning this year’s competition at the Smyrna Opera House Thursday night with her rendition of “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson. 

The poem reads:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Hussein beat out the 11 other state finalists, a couple who were also finalists last year.

Her round one poem was “​​Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear” by Mosab Abu Toha, and her round two poem was “If They Should Come for Us” by Fatimah Asghar.

The finalists were named after round two.

They included Hussein, as well as Joelle Caternor from Smyrna High School, Olivia Stevens from Mount Sophia Academy, Grace Sullivan from MOT Charter High School and Jono McGarvey from Delaware Valley Classical School.

With her win, Hussein is headed to the national finals in Washington, D.C. April 30 to May 3, to represent Delaware and compete for $50,000 in awards and school stipends.

Contestants were judged on their physical presence, eye contact and body language, pace, rhythm, punctuation, dramatic appropriateness, articulation and evidence of understanding.

The contestants had advanced through school competitions, choosing works from an anthology of more than 1,200 poems.

The night began with 12 poets:

  • Jono McGarvey, Delaware Valley Classical School
  • Grace Sullivan, MOT Charter High School
  • Olivia Stevens, Mount Sophia Academy 
  • Maiss Hussein, Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School
  • Hunter Brown, Red Lion Christian Academy
  • Abigail Ehemann, Saint Mark’s High School
  • Perrin Brown, Sanford School
  • Joelle Caternor, Smyrna High School
  • Harrison Dabbs, Sussex Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • Nife Anawo, Sussex Central High School
  • Caliana Velasquez, Sussex Technical High School
  • Jamie Feldman, Wilmington Friends School

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