Poetry Out Loud

The 2024 Utah Poetry Out Loud and Poetry Ourselves competitions are complete

Our 2023-2024 State Finals Event for Poetry Out Loud was held on March 13, 2024 at the Mid-Valley Center for the Performing Arts in Taylorsville. 

It was a wonderful evening that included remarks and a poetry reading from Utah Poet Laureate Lisa Bickmore; live music from the Meadowlark String Band; and an original dance and multimedia performance by artist Stephanie Garcia.

The Utah winner for Poetry Out Loud is:

  • Anni Willes - Waterford School

Anni will receive a trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national finals event, May 1-2, 2024.

The runner-up is:

  •  Cairo Evans - Walden School of the Liberal Arts

Congratulations to both of them, and to our other state finalists, who all performed beautifully. The other finalists were:

  • Blithe Bigelow - Farmington High School
  • Elizabeth Butcher - Union High School
  • Aolfe Canning - Rowland Hall
  • Julia Lesue - Monument Valley High School
  • Katie Hokanson - Box Elder High School
  • Mia Watabe - Snow Canyon High School

We also announced the winners of our Poetry Ourselves competition for original high school poetry. They are:

  • First Place - Erica Prasthofer for her poem Revolution
  • Runner-up - Nadia Scharfstein for her poem Flesh Telephone
  • Honoree for achievement in Spanish Language Poetry - Walker Heiner for his poem PROBLEMA

Click the button below to read the winning poems.

Read the Winning Poems

Congratulations to our winners and to all the students across the state who competed in these two competitions. Thank you to all the teachers and coordinators who helped make this year’s competition a success.

All About 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.

Poetry Out Loud encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

POL participation aligns with the state core curriculum standards in English. It supports the  expectation for a students’ capacity to speak in public.

Since 2006, five Utah winners have ranked in the national top ten. In 2012, MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School placed third and received $5,000. She returned to Washington, D.C., to recite at the National Book Festival. In 2008, Skyline High School senior Madison Niermeyer also placed third and received $5,000. Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote Madison a letter congratulating her on her recitation of his poem “I Am Waiting.” Ashlei Havili of American Fork High School in 2014 and Devon Jones of West Jordan High School in 2015 both received honorable mentions, and they each received $1,000.

Contact justinivie@utah.govor jirwin@utah.gov for more information.

Free educational resources and more information about the national Poetry Out Loud program is available at their website.

National Poetry Out Loud Resources

2023/24 Poetry Competitions

Each year UA&M sponsors two different poetry competitions for students in grades 9-12. Students are welcome to participate in either contest or in both.

Poetry Out Loud is the nationwide competition for students to memorize and recite the works of classical and modern masters.

Poetry Ourselves is a Utah competition for Utah’s 9th-12th graders who wish to submit their own original poetry.

  • Student workshops with Utah Poet Laureate Lisa Bickmore are available for schools that register for POL, hold a school competition, and send a candidate to compete in their regional competition.
  • The state winner of Poetry Out Loud and one accompanying adult will receive a free trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national finals.
  • The national Poetry Out Loud competition awards more than $100K in prizes to students and to their schools for the purchase of poetry books for their library. A $20K award goes to the national champion.
  • The winner of Poetry Ourselves also receives a cash prize.
  • The Utah Poetry Ourselves competition does not send winners to compete at a national level. However, all state Poetry Our Loud winners are invited to submit their own original poetry to the national Poetry Ourselves event while competing in DC.

Important Dates

  • School-level Poetry Out Loud competitions must be held by early February, 2024. (Exact deadlines will vary by region and are TBD.)
  • Student entries to Poetry Ourselves must be submitted by February 9, 2024.
  • POL Regional Competitions will be held by February 28, 2024.
  • Utah State POL Finals in SLC - March 13, 2024 | 7 p.m., Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center in Taylorsville
  • National Finals in DC - April 30-May 2, 2024


For Poetry Out Loud, teachers must register for their school or class to participate and then hold a school-level competition to send a winner to regionals.

  • A stipend of up to $100 is available for teachers who register, successfully administer a POL competition for their students and complete a report form to UA&M.
  • Schools who participate in POL are eligible to request a school appearance from Utah Poet Laureate, Lisa Bickmore at no cost. Read more about this exciting opportunity, including how to request a school visit on our Poet Laureate page.
  • No need to register individual students for POL. (However, if a student wishes to participate, but their teacher or school does not, please contact justinivie@utah.gov for help.)
  • To sign up, click the registration button below. Select the geographic region for your school and then look for the small box on the right-hand side of your screen (with the “Create Account” button) to get started.
  • After you register, your regional coordinator will reach out with more help and information.
  • Guidance for organizing a POL Competition – and other great resources – are available at the national Poetry Out Loud website.

For Poetry Ourselves, students must register and submit their original poems directly.

  • To sign up, click the registration button below. Select “Poetry Ourselves” from the list of contests, and then look for the small box on the right-hand side of your screen (with the “Create Account” button) to get started.
  • Students may submit either one or two original poems of any format - OR - up to a maximum of ten original haiku.
  • Submitted poems must be 25 lines or less (each line of 12 pt. type with one-inch margins counts as one line). Longer poems will be disqualified.
Register Here for Poetry Out Loud or Poetry Ourselves

Poetry Out Loud Video

Here's a video highlighting Poetry Out Loud. Please enjoy and feel free to share!
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National Endowment for the Arts.