Lanier High student competes for national poetry prize

Valyn Lyric Turner

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Valyn Lyric Turner

A love of acting may pay off big for Lanier High School junior Valyn Lyric Turner as she represents Georgia at the Poetry Out Loud national finals in Washington, D.C., Tuesday and Wednesday.

This poetry recitation contest includes a prize of $20,000 for the national champion.

This isn’t Valyn’s first time in the competition.

She first heard of it her freshman year at the Gwinnett County school.

“My language arts teacher was looking for more participation,” she said. “The school had done well that last few years and she wanted to get more people involved.”

That first time she took second place in the school. The next year she went to the state finals. Her family is hoping that the third time is the charm.

“She’s already shown she’s got the talent,” said her very excited father, Frederick Turner. “She’s kind of shy about it, but I want her to take the prize.”

Poetry Out Loud is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and the state arts agencies that encourage students to explore classic and contemporary poetry through memorization and performance. Now in its 13th year, Poetry Out Loud helps students to develop analytical and public speaking skills, while building self-confidence. This year, more than 300,000 students participated nationwide.

No matter what the outcome, Valyn said this has opened her eyes to career possibilities.

“I’ve been acting since I was 7 and I’ve been in 26 theater productions,” she said. “I love language and I love literature — I’d love to make this a part of my future.”

Both her parents had planned to attend the competition, but Valyn isn’t the only talented member of the family. Her brother Erick Turner will be honored as Lanier’s Outstanding Male Athlete at an awards ceremony during the same time. So mother Venita Turner and a few other relatives will make the trip.

But many friends and family will be rooting online.

The entire competition will be webcast live at from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 7 to 9:15 p.m. Wednesday.