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.

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. Regional competitions take place throughout February. Each region will advance one winner to the state final competition in March.

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

For full details on the national poetry recitation competition, visit

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.

2020 Poetry Out Loud Information

School Registration

Individual Student Registration

2020 Poetry Out Loud State Finals

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Westminster College, Salt Lake City

Olivia Slaughter has earned a trip to Washington, D.C. and a chance to win $20,000 in the national finals of Poetry Out Loud after winning the state competition on Wednesday, March 11.

Slaughter, a student at Salt Lake Center for Science Education, recited three poems during the state competition. They included “Passing,” by Toi Derricotte; “They are hostile nations,” by Margaret Atwood; and “Love Armed,” by Aphra Behn. 

The seven 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 Aeva Dye of Dixie Middle School in St. George. 

At the time of this writing, the national finals are scheduled for Wednesday, April 26, 2020. Contestants from 50 states and two territories will compete for prizes of $20,000, $10,000, $5,000, and $1,000. 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 regional competitions held earlier this year. Other contestants included:

Abigail Fisher – Merit Academy

Adam Semandeni – Vernal High School

Aizlinn Soledad – Ogden High School

Isabella Bertagnolli – Juan Diego Catholic School

Kambree Adams – Bear River 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