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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.

School Registration

Individual Registration

  • Registration closes on January 31, 2018.
  • For details regarding Utah’s POL activities, email jirwin@utah.gov or call 801-236-7557.
  • For full details on the national poetry recitation competition, visit www.poetryoutloud.org.
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.

2017 Poetry Out Loud

Ben Engel of Skyline 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 15, 2017, at co-host Westminster College’s Vieve Gore Concert Hall in the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts. Engel received $200 and travel expenses to represent Utah in the national championship April 25-26 in Washington, D.C. His school received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Runner-up Cody Howell of North Sanpete High School received $100, with $200 for his school library. Poetry Out Loud awards a $20,000 college scholarship to the national champion.

Approximately 32 high schools, 4,113 students, and 90 teachers around the state participated in Poetry Out Loud activities and competed in school and region competitions held in Brigham City, Gunnison, Provo, St. George, Salt Lake City, and Ogden. At the Vieve Gore Concert Hall, students recited works they selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems.


Past Winners

  • 2016 – Tessa Thornley, Bear River High School, Garland
  • 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)

Participation Call for Poetry Out Loud – 11 Sept 2013

“To have great poets, there must be great audiences, too.”

—Walt Whitman

Utah Arts & Museums invites all educators in Utah’s secondary schools to encourage students to participate in Poetry Out Loud (POL). The state competition is presented by Utah Arts & Museums. Poetry Out Loud is a national initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that encourages students in grades 9-12 to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

In each state, Poetry Out Loud begins at the classroom or school level. Classroom winners advance to a school-wide competition, school winners advance to a regional competition, and regional winners advance to the state finals. The Utah champion competes in Washington, D.C. at the national finals, April 30 and May 1, 2014. Awards totaling $50,000 go to first-, second-, third-place and honorable-mention winners, as well as supporting the purchase of poetry books for represented schools.

Students from schools not associated with an accessible region compete at a preliminary competition held the day of the state finals. Participating schools must register and complete their school-wide competition by February 7, 2014. Regional competitions will end by February 21, 2014. The Utah State Final Competition is at 7:00 p.m. March 12, 2014, at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

“Utah has had four finalists in the national top nine,” said Utah Arts & Museums Director Lynnette Hiskey. “Last year, Devin Jones of West Jordan High School received an honorable mention at the national finals. We’re very proud of our students who compete and excel in this wonderful program.”

In 2012, senior MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School competed against 53 state and territory champions. Hassan received the third-place prize and a $5,000 award, and was invited to return to Washington, D.C., to recite at the National Book Festival. In 2008, Skyline High School senior Madison Niermeyer also placed third at the national competition and received a $5,000 scholarship award. Niermeyer was contacted by noted Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti to congratulate her on her recitation of his poem “I Am Waiting.”

For information on participating, call 801.533.5760 or e-mail pol@utah.gov.