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Poetry Out Loud

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with the Utah Arts & Museums Arts Education Program to support Poetry Out Loud, which encourages Utah’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

2015-2016 Regional Competitions List

  • For full details on the national poetry recitation competition, visit
  • For details regarding Utah’s Poetry Out Loud activities, contact the POL Team via email or call 801-236-7557.
  • After completing your school competition, please complete and return this very short report.
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.

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 received $200 and travel expenses to represent Utah in the national championship April 29 and 30 in Washington, D.C. Her school received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Runner-up Nick Markham of Judge Memorial Catholic High School received $100, with $200 for his school library. Poetry Out Loud awards 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.

2014 Finalists

Utah Champion Ashlei Havili, American Fork High School, American Fork

Utah Runner-up Nick Markham, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City

Mitchell Asper, North Sevier High School, Salina

Mason Duncan II, Union High School, Roosevelt

Emily Woolsey, Beaver High School, Beaver

Past Winners

  • 2015 – Sadie Merkley, Box Elder High School, Brigham City
  • 2014 – Ashlei Havili, American Fork High School, American Fork
  • 2013 – Devin Jones, West Jordan High School, West Jordan
  • 2012 – MarKaye Hassan, Logan High School (placed 3rd in National Competition)

Original Writing Competition

Established in 1958, the competition awards Utah writers for works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in a variety of forms for readers of all ages. Submissions must be original works and cannot be published or accepted for publication at the time of entry. Manuscripts are reviewed in a blind process by judges selected from outside of Utah. Past winners have included former Utah Poets Laureate David Lee, Ken Brewer, and Katharine Coles, as well as current Utah Poet Laureate Lance Larsen. There is no entry fee for the competition, and it is open to all Utah residents.

We celebrated the 2015 Utah Original Writing Competition winners at an event on Saturday, November 7, at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. Click on the image below to view and download photos from the afternoon. 

2015 OWC program

2015 Utah Original Writing Competition Winners

Category A: Novel, judged by Ernest Hebert

First Place: The Salted Earth, by Eric Robertson (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: The Lord, My Shepherd, by Daniel Robertson (Provo)

Honorable Mention: Danger on Board, by Anne Stark (Paradise); Filet of Soul, by Courtney Davis (Provo)


Category B: Biography/Autobiography/History, judged by Poe Ballantine

First Place: Dreams of My Comrades, by Scott Zuckerman (Park City)

Second Place: Dear Little Fish, by Melissa Bond (Salt Lake City)

Honorable Mention: The Reluctant Boss, by Hector Griffin (Cottonwood Heights); Nine Lives of a Natural Redhead, by Marcee Blackerby (Salt Lake City)


Category C: Book-length Collection of Stories, judged by Katherine Bahr

First Place: New Myth: Stories, by Aaron Allen (Orem)

Second Place: City of Saints: Stories of the Mormon Corridor, by David Pace (Salt Lake City)

Honorable Mention: The Man Who Destroyed the Universe, by Gregory Deluca (St. George)


Category D: Young Adult Book, judged by Connie Goldsmith

First Place: The Dark Backward, by McKelle George (Lehi)

Second Place: All My Fairy Godmothers, by Katy Larson (Springville)

Honorable Mention: Rat Prince of Kusa, by Elena Jube (Provo); Better Than Dead, by Jessica Guernsey (Lindon)


Category E: Poetry, judged by Ellen Bass

First Place: “Waiting,” by Anne Vinsel (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: “Darlings from the Beginning,” by Ben Gunsberg (Logan)


Category F: Short Story, judged by Jon Billman

First Place: “The Whiskeyjack,” by Jenn Gibbs (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: “Eating Sushi in Mesquite,” by Lynn Kilpatrick (Salt Lake City)

Honorable Mention: “Long Lost,” by David Cawley (Centerville)


Category G: Narrative Nonfiction/Personal Essay, judged by Rus Bradburd

First Place: “The Other Amelia,” by James Ure (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: “Mystery, Knowledge, and the Worsening Light of the Ethereal Mind,” by Maximilian Werner (Salt Lake City)

Honorable Mention: “Guilt: Two Love Stories,” by Natasha Saje (Salt Lake City)

2015 Utah Original Writing Competition Judges

Category A: Novel – Ernest Hebert

Ernest Hebert was the first person to be tenured as a fiction writer at Dartmouth College, where he taught from 1988 to 2015. The author of 12 books, Hebert is best known for the Darby Chronicles, seven connected novels revolving around the imaginary New Hampshire town of Darby. The Dogs of March (1979), the first Darby novel, received a citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation (now the PEN/Hemingway Award). Live Free or Die, the fifth Darby novel, was named a “notable book of the year” by the New York Times in 1989. Spoonwood (2005), the sixth Darby novel, received an IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) for the best regional novel in the Northeast in 2005. His historical novel, The Old American, and his cyber punk novel, Mad Boys, won prizes from the New Hampshire Writers Project, a group which honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 2014. The New England Book Sellers Association chose Hebert as their Fiction Author of the Year for 2006. He and his wife live in Westmoreland, New Hampshire.

Category B: Biography/Autobiography/History – Poe Ballantine

Poe Ballantine was born in Denver and raised in San Diego. He dropped out of college and has spent most of his adult life traveling on the cheap. He is the winner of two Best American Essays, one Best American Short Story, and one Pushcart Prize. Ballantine’s most recent book is the essay collection Guidelines for Mountain Lion Safety. He lives in Chadron, Nebraska, with his wife and son.

Category C: Book-length Collection of Stories – Katherine (Kathy) Bahr

Kathy Bahr is a native of Augusta, Georgia, but traveled around the world as a military dependent, commonly known as an “army brat.”  She received an A. B. degree in philosophy and religion from the University of Georgia, an M. A. in English from Valdosta State University, and a PhD in English, also from UGA.  For the last 21 years, she has taught English and world literature, composition and ethics at Chadron State College in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Prior to her teaching career, she worked at the South Georgia Area Planning and Development Commission (Valdosta, GA), the American Bar Foundation (Chicago), and WESTAT, Inc. (Washington, D. C.).  As a possible point of interest to Utah residents, Spencer L. Kimball, the oldest son of Spencer W. Kimball, was conducting research at the Bar Foundation when she worked there. Her main publications are critical essays on the works of Matthew Arnold, the 19th-century critic and poet, and Mari Sandoz, the Nebraska Panhandle’s regional novelist and historian.  She is the recipient of the Frederic C. Luebke Award for Outstanding Regional Scholarship for her article “Collateral Damage: Veterans and Domestic Violence in Mari Sandoz’s The Tom-Walker.”  Recently retired, she hopes to do some long-postponed creative writing.

Category D: Young Adult Book – Connie Goldsmith

Connie Goldsmith writes nonfiction, primarily for Lerner’s school and library imprint for older young adult readers, Twenty-First Century Press. Her 17 nonfiction books (two due out in 2016) are about health, science, and history. Her most recent book, Bombs Over Bikini, was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street College Best Book, and won the 2015 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for California and Hawaii. Goldsmith has judged numerous writing contests, including for the Friends of the Sacramento Library, where she judged all categories, including young adult fiction. She reads YA fiction voraciously and reviews YA novels for The New York Journal of Books. She has read and reviewed more than 600 children’s books of all genres for California Kids, a Sacramento regional parenting publication, and has performed paid and unpaid critiques on all genres of juvenile writing for SCBWI-related events. Visit her websites at and

Category E: Poetry – Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, and many other journals. Her most recent book, Like a Beggar, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2014. Previous poetry books include The Human Line and Mules of Love. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women. Among her awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, two Pushcart Prizes, the Elliston Book Award, The Lambda Literary Award, The Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod/Hardman, the Larry Levis Prize from Missouri Review, and the New Letters Prize. Her nonfiction books include Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies and The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, which has been translated into 12 languages. She lives in Santa Cruz, California and teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.

Category F: Short Story – Jon Billman

Jon Billman’s fiction has appeared in such magazines as Esquire, Zoetrope: All Story and The Paris Review. He’s a contributing writer for Outside magazine and teaches in the MFA program at Northern Michigan University. He lives with his family in a log cabin in the Upper Peninsula.

Category G: Narrative Nonfiction/Personal Essay – Rus Bradburd

Rus Bradburd’s new book, Make It, Take It, is a novel in stories. He is also the author of Forty Minutes of Hell and Paddy on the Hardwood. A Chicago native, he coached basketball at UTEP and New Mexico State for 14 seasons. He is a frequent contributor to SLAM magazine, and his essays have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, El Paso Times, Chicago Daily Southtown, Albuquerque Journal, Las Cruces Sun-News, African-American Perspectives, New Mexico Magazine, and Fiddler Magazine.

Click on the links below to see lists of winners in previous years.

2014 OWC List of Winners

2013 OWC List of Winners

2012 OWC List of Winners

2011 OWC List of Winners

2010 OWC List of Winners


Contact Alyssa Hickman Grove at or 801.236.7548.

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Rio Gallery

Located in the grand lobby of the old Rio Grande Depot, the Rio Gallery was established as a service to Utah artists, providing a free venue for emerging as well as established artists to collaborate on exhibits and engage the community through art-making and dialogue.

Coming to the Rio Gallery:

Utah 2015 Statewide Annual Exhibition

November 20 – January 8, 2016

An artist reception will be held on Friday, November 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. for
Salt Lake Gallery Stroll.

Thank you to all the artists from Logan to Kanab who submitted over 400 works to be juried. Please join us for the opening reception of Statewide Annual ’15: Photography, Craft, Video & Digital Works.

Location & Hours

Rio Grande Depot, 300 South Rio Grande Street (455 West), Salt Lake City; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday

Thr Rio Grande Depot will be open every other Saturday from 10-2pm for Winter Market beginning November 7, 2015 – April, 16 2016

Click HERE for information about the Art-o-mat.

Proposals for Rio Gallery Exhibitions

Proposals for exhibitions in July-December of 2016 will be accepted January 1-February 1 2016. Be sure to download the GUIDELINES prior to submitting your proposal online. Incomplete entries will not be accepted.



Contact the Rio Gallery Manager
Felicia Baca at 801.245.7272

The Rio Gallery is a member of the

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Alice Gallery

The Alice Gallery is located at the historic Glendinning Mansion in Salt Lake City, which also houses the main offices of Utah Arts & Museums. The gallery is named after Alice Merrill Horne, a legislator who supported the arts and founded the Utah Arts Council in 1899.

This gallery hosts exhibitions by Utah artists and works from the State Fine Art Collection and was established as a service to Utah artists, providing a free venue for emerging as well as established artists to collaborate on exhibits and engage the community through art-making and dialogue.

“Inside Out”

Nov 20 – Jan 15, 2015
Please join us for a Gallery Stroll opening reception on Dec 4, 6-9pm.
Bronwen Beecher and Stephen Keen will be joining us for musical accompaniment. 

Inside: Out explores decorative items – such as clothing and tattoos – and how they mediate our psychological existence. These full scale figural paintings portray the vulnerability of exposing yourself to people, both literally and psychologically. Lindsay Frei paints subjects that seem caught in states of undress. In many of her paintings, it is unclear if the figure is in the act of dressing or undressing. Frei refers to these as “moments of contingency” and feels there is an inherent vibrancy in the uncertain outcome. We call into question whether the subjects are revealing or concealing themselves. There is an inherently seductive connotation to the act of undressing, and the history of art is replete with examples of the artist’s voyeuristic gaze. Frei’s work, however, is akin to an artist investigation in which the forms and psychological implications of clothing are conflated.

Additionally, Frei makes a conscious decision not to use professional models. “They are often friends who are experiencing a very real sense of vulnerability as they model,” says the artist. “For them, modeling is an act of courage that often displays a sense of human dignity that I believe creates a very personal sense of beauty. Ultimately, these paintings are about the movement inherent in the act of making the choice to reveal or conceal ourselves, and I believe this kind of intimacy is even more private than simply seeing a person naked.”

Location & Hours

Glendinning Home, 617 East South Temple, Salt Lake City
8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday; Closed Saturday – Sunday

Proposals for Exhibitions

Proposals for exhibitions in July-December of 2016 will be accepted January 1-February 2016. Be sure to download the GUIDELINES prior to submitting your proposal online. Incomplete entries will not be accepted.


Download Alice Gallery floorplans.


Contact the Gallery Manager
Felicia Baca at 801.245.7272

The Alice Gallery is a member of the

Salt Lake Gallery Stroll Logo

Literary Arts

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums has been supporting Utah’s literary community for more than 50 years. The Utah Original Writing Competition began in 1958 and has since expanded to other offerings. Through readings, conferences and workshops offered throughout Utah, as well as support for professional development for writers, the Literary Arts program has been able to reinforce growth and interest across all literary genres.

Bite-Size Poetry

We’ve invited notable Utah poets to recite short poems they’ve written. Our friends at TWIG Media Lab have created videos of the readings. We’re releasing one a month throughout 2015. Enjoy!

Bite-Size Poetry for November 2015: Paisley Rekdal

To see more videos of past Bite-Size Poets, please visit our YouTube channel.

Poet Laureate

Utah initiated its Poet Laureate program in 1997. The Poet Laureate is a Governor-appointed advocate for literature and the arts throughout the state. The Poet Laureate is available for readings at public events and in venues including libraries, universities and schools. To have the Poet Laureate visit you, please fill out the Poet Laureate appearance request form.

Literary Resources

Utah is home to a rich and diverse writing community. Throughout the state, there are several literary journals and magazines (both print and electronic), conferences, competitions, awards, festivals and presses. These range from independent to university- and college-sponsored periodicals, events and workshops, and include content in all literary genres, often paired with visual arts. Additionally, audiences for each range from local to national and from secular to religious, and are inclusive of experienced and emerging writers alike. For a list of resources, click HERE.

You may also sign up for our monthly LitOps e-newsletter by contacting Alyssa Hickman Grove at .


Poetry Out Loud Logo

Poetry Out Loud
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with Utah Arts & Museums’ Literature Program to support Poetry Out Loud, which encourages Utah’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. State arts agencies receiving arts education funding from NEA are required to participate.

Original Writing Competition
The annual Original Writing Competition has won national respect because of the reputation of its judges and the honors received by its winners. For more than 50 years, this competition has honored some of Utah’s finest writers with public recognition, career assistance and cash prizes.

Download an information sheet on the Literary Arts program.

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