KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WNCN) – Roses may be red and violets may be blue — but the talent of Knightdale’s own Gabriella Burwell is undeniably true.

The North Carolina 11th grader will be showcasing her eloquent talents on the big stage of the 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals in May.

Gabriella Burwell from Knightdale High School is advancing to the semifinals after earning the title of North Carolina’s Poetry Out Loud champion in late February. Gabriella won North Carolina with her recitation of Dudley Randall’s poem “Ballad of Birmingham.”

Poetry Out Loud is a national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.

This program helps high school students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history while vying for cash prizes that can benefit their school.

NC Poetry Out Loud Champion, Gabriella Burwell. (Wake County Public School System photo)

In total, $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed as part of the national finals, including a $20,000 prize for the national champion.

Before COVID-times, Gabriella also would have received an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to the semi-finals in Washington, D.C., but due to pandemic concerns, this year’s semi-finals and finals will be virtual.

The National Semifinals will be held on May 1 in a one-time webcast at

Gabriella will be up against 54 other students – one from each of the 50 states, as well as winners from American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The field of 55 students will be narrowed to just nine who will advance to the National Finals that are set for June 5.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies.

“Congratulations to all of the students who participated in Poetry Out Loud over the past year! Through poetry, these students are developing the insights, confidence, and skills to help shape our world by seeing things from different perspectives, exploring issues of our time, and giving voice to ideas that often seem hard to articulate,” Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson said, the chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.