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.

2022 Poetry out loud state final competition

The state final will be held Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at 7 p.m., at the Holladay Arts Council, located at 4580 S 2300 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84117. The winner and runner-up of the 2021/2022 Utah Original Poem Writing competition will be announced this evening. The state champion represents Utah and competes for $20,000 at the national competition. The 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Finals will take place virtually, rather than on site in Washington, D.C.

Region winners competing at the state level are:
Aeva Dye: Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Iron, Washington
Shan Robinson: Box Elder, Logan, Cache County
Araxan Olivares: Salt Lake City, Murray, Park City, Tooele
Savannah Turnbow: Provo, Nebo, Alpine
Jackson Shemwell: Granite, Jordan, Canyons Districts

The state finals competition is free and open to the public. Please keep in mind that COVID-19 case counts and transmission levels remain high. UA&M strongly encourages COVID-19 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, please avoid infecting others by staying home.

You may attend virtually and watch a live broadcast of the event by registering at this link. 

Access the program for the state final competition here.

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.

The national semifinals will stream on Sunday, May 1 and the national finals will stream on Sunday, June 5. Both will be streamed at arts.gov.

Poetry Out Loud, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that 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 across the nation 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 theatre into the English classroom. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

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

Justin Ivie
Arts Education Coordinator