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Utah Students Compete in Poetry Out Loud State Finals

Six students from throughout Utah competed Wednesday for an opportunity to qualify for the national Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, D.C.

Rebecca Akec (pictured) of Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City won the competition. She will represent Utah on April 23, 24, and 25 in Washington, D.C. at the national finals of Poetry Out Loud.

Akec recited The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth, The River of Bees” by W.S. Merwin, and So This Is Nebraska by Ted Kooser.
Second place went to Rain Flower Tanner from the Waterford School.

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums presented the state finals for Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation competition sponsored by The Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. During the competition, students recited works selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems.

High schools around the state participated in Poetry Out Loud activities and competed in six region competitions held in Brigham City, Herriman, Ogden, Provo, St. George, and Salt Lake City. Region winners competing at the state level are:

  • Rebecca Akec, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City
  • Lindsey Aune, Legacy Preparatory Academy, North Salt Lake
  • Emery Busk, Desert Hills Middle School, St. George
  • Maika Havili, American Fork High School, American Fork
  • Emma Tackett, Bear River High School, Brigham City
  • Rain Flower Tanner, The Waterford School, Sandy

The emcee for the evening was Johann Jacobs, Utah Arts Council chairperson. Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal read, as well.

Since 2006, five Utah winners have placed in the top 10 of the national finals of Poetry Out Loud. The 2018 finals will be held at George Washington University April 23-25. The semifinals and finals webcast live may be seen at

Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on trends in poetry recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, the spoken word, and theater into the English classroom. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.