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Poetry Out Loud

Recitation and performance are major trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music. Poetry Out Loud builds on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word and theater into the English and theatre class. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with the Utah Arts & Museums Literature Program to support Poetry Out Loud, which encourages Utah’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

  • For full details on this exciting national poetry recitation contest, visit
  • For more details regarding Utah’s Poetry Out Loud activities, contact the POL Team via email or call 801.533.5760.

2014 Poetry Out Loud

Click HERE to hear an interview on KCPW radio with winner Ashlei Havili and POL administrator Jean Tokuda Irwin.

Ashlei Havili of American Fork High School took home top honors from the state finals for the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, presented by Utah Arts & Museums on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at co-host Westminster College’s Vieve Gore Concert Hall in the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts. Havili will receive $200 and travel expenses to represent Utah in the national championship April 29 and 30 in Washington, D.C. Her school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Runner-up Nick Markham of Judge Memorial Catholic High School will receive $100, with $200 for his school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a $20,000 college scholarship to the national champion.

Approximately 5,042 students from 43 high schools and 16 school districts across Utah participated in Poetry Out Loud activities and competed in school and regional competitions. Regional competitions were held in Gunnison, Provo, Roosevelt, St. George, South Jordan and Woods Cross. At the Vieve Gore Concert Hall, students recited works they selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems. Students competing included:

Ashlei Havili, American Fork High School, American Fork
Emily Woolsey, Beaver High School, Beaver
Rose Peckham, East Hollywood High School, West Valley City
Nick Markham, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City
Mitchell Asper, North Sevier High School, Salina
Mason Duncan II, Union High School, Roosevelt

2013 Poetry Out Loud Photos - Click Here

Congratulations to Devin Jones for his 4th Place Regional finish at the National Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C.!

2013 Poetry Out Loud Competitors

On March 12, 2013, six competitors from around the state competed in the Poetry Out Loud State final. These high school students competed in individual school competitions (consisting of more than 3,600 students), then a regional/preliminary competition to reach the state level. Performing three poems chosen from the extensive POL database, students were judged on criteria such as articulation, understanding, physical presence, level of difficulty, and accuracy. Judges were Todd Petersen, Paula Fowler, Jennifer Tonge, and Kim Burningham. Special performances were given by Poet Laureate Lance Larsen, poets Mike Dorrell and Willy Palomo, and musicians Daniel Day Trio.

Devin Jones from West Jordan High School emerged the winner, receiving a $200 cash award and $500 for poetry books for his school. At the national competition in Washington, D.C. on April 29th-30th, Devin represented Utah in the Region 3 competition, where he earned a 4th-place finish. When interviewed, he said he had never performed before Poetry Out Loud and wanted to “expand my horizons with my poetry” by choosing three new poems for the national competition.

Tony Madrid from East Hollywood High School came in second at the state competition, receiving a $100 cash award and $200 for poetry books for his school.

For more information on the national competition, please click HERE.

Watch Videos of the Six 2013 Finalists

Joshua Graham
Rowan Hadlock
Devin Jones
Jenny Kim
Tony Madrid
Elizabeth Malone

Past Winners

  • 2012 – MarKaye Hassan, Logan High School (placed 3rd in National Competition)
  • 2011 – Shannon McCullam, Box Elder High School, Brigham City
  • 2010 – Caroline Liston, Box Elder High School, Brigham City
  • 2009 – Janna Tessman, East High School, Salt Lake City