A central Iowa high school student will represent the state next month in Washington D.C. at a national poetry-reading competition called Poetry Out Loud.

Emily Mortvedt, a senior at Roland-Story High School in Story City, was the winner in last week’s state verision of the contest where she read three poems, including one called "A Song of Life." Mortvedt says the poem talks about how we should live our lives, "because…life is not meaningless and there is a purpose to life and it’s more about living for today and not in the future or in the past."

In 2003, her 17-year-old brother, Sam, was killed in a car crash. Mortvedt says reading the poetry has helped her work through her grief.  "It’s been a really hard four years for me but it’s really helped me grow and the poems that I did really hit home for me and in a way, reflect my life," she says.  "It’s really good to do poems that aren’t just poetry but they’re real to me, you know?"

Mortvedt will be traveling to the nation’s capitol in late April to compete with high school students from across the country. Besides the competition, she says it’ll be a great chance for some sight-seeing.  She’s excited to be going on her first-ever tour of the White House. There will also be a Congressional luncheon for the young poets and the chance to meet various celebrities, including Garrison Keillor, author and host of the radio show, A Prairie Home Companion.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. For winning the state level contest, Mortvedt won $200 plus $500 for her school. She has the chance to win a $20,000 scholarship in the national contest.

Additional reporting by Matt Kelley.