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.

2021-22 Poetry Out Loud Registration

School Registration

Individual Student Registration

About Poetry out Loud

POL uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Every school winner or individual student (if home-schooled or individually participating) must compete at a regional level competition. Each region will advance one winner to the state final.


  • Individual teachers that participate and register will be provided with a stipend of $100. Teacher-judges will be provided with an additional $200.
  • Most regional competitions will be video submission based. Southern Utah will host an in-person competition. To submit a video visit https://ut-pol.zfairs.com/.
  • The state finals will be held on March 9, 2022 at the Holladay Arts Council, Holladay City Hall, 4580 S 2300 E, Holladay.  7:00 p.m. Each regional finalist may only bring two additional individuals.
  • Because COVID case counts and transmission levels remain high, we strongly encourage COVID vaccines and wearing face masks while at the Poetry Out Loud State Final Competition. Face masks and sanitizer will be provided to all attendees. If you test positive for COVID-19, or are exposed to COVID-19, within 1-5 days of our event, or if you are sick the day of the event, you can avoid infecting others by staying home. Learn where you can get your vaccine here.

For details regarding Utah’s POL activities, email Jean Irwin at jirwin@utah.gov or call 801.236.7559.

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.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation release preliminary findings about the efficacy of Poetry Out Loud for students. POL Evaluation Study findings: Patricia Moore Shaffer, PhD, Deputy Director of Research & Analysis at the NEA. 
•          Key Findings: Academic Engagement
•          Key Findings: Social-Emotional Development
•          Key Findings: Poetry Appreciation & Engagement
Book the Poet Laureate

To request a reading or workshop by the Poet Laureate, please fill out the Utah Poet Laureate Appearance Request Form. Requests are honored based on the nature of the request and the availability of the Poet Laureate.

After the Poet Laureate has visited your school or organization, please fill out this brief Utah Poet Laureate Visit Report Form.

2021-22 utah original poem competition

9th-12th grade Utah students write and present their own original poem(s). Awards will be given to students writing poems that address current social, environmental and health challenges facing Utah and the United States. Memorization is optional, but accuracy will not be scored. Students may choose to read a longer poem. Students may opt to participate in either the Original Poem Competition, Poetry Out Loud or both. Submit entries at https://ut-pol.zfairs.com/. 


  • Students write and present one or two original poems.
  • Poems must be 25 lines or less (each line of 12 pt type with one-inch margins counts as one line).
  • Poems may be in free verse, Haiku, rhyme, or other accepted poetry forms.
  • Students may submit a maximum of ten Haikus.
  • The title must be listed above the poem. DO NOT include the name of the student.
  • Students must complete submission form (soon to become available).
  • Upload poems in pdf.

2021 Poetry Out Loud State Finals

Brynne Burgess was Utah's Poetry Out Loud state champion. Burgess, a student at Legacy Preparatory Academy, recited three poems during the virtual state competition. They included “Famous,” by Naomi Shihab Nye; “The Pull Toy,” by A.E. Stallings; and “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley. 

Here is a video of the 2021 virtual state competition. 

The six finalists each read three selections chosen from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems. All of the contestants must memorize their selected poems and perform them solo on a stage lit by nothing more than a spotlight.

The runner-up was Scout Jones of Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy in Lindon. 

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The state Poetry Out Loud competition is presented annually by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.

The finalists were selected from video submission-based competitions at the regional level. Other contestants included:

Abigail Wilde - Herriman High School
Audrey Spendlove - Snow Canyon High School
Dillon Stewart - Bear River High School
Michael Silas - Judge Memorial Catholic High School

2019 Poetry Out Loud Finals

Click HERE to watch a video about the 2019 POL competition. 


Jean Tokuda Irwin
Arts Education Manager

Claudia Borjas
Arts Education Coordinator