Poetry Out Loud

ArtsWA joins other state arts agencies in partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation to support Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation competition that encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. By participating in the program, students master public speaking skills and build self confidence, while also learning how to connect with and analyze literature in new ways. Each state hosts an annual competition, culminating in a national competition among the state winners.

See the Poetry Out Loud Program Information page for complete participation information.

In 2013, Langston Ward, Washington's representative at the national Poetry Out Loud competition, took top honors in the U.S. --a first for our state. Read more about his exciting achievement in our press release from May 1, 2013 and in an article published in the Spokesman Review on May 2, 2013.

2014 State Finals

Starting from a field of 23,000 students across 76 of Washington's high schools, Elizabeth Mo, a senior at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, Benton County, took first place in the Washington State Finals for Poetry Out Loud with her recitations of In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr. by June Jordan, Dover Bear by Matthew Arnold and Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Mo is now the 2014 Washington State Poetry Out Loud Champion and will travel to Washington, D.C. on an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the national finals on April 28-30, 2014. Additionally, she will receive a $200 prize, and her school library will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials.

Francisca Ritoch of Shorewood High School (King) took second place and receives $100, with a poetry material stipend of $200 for her school. Mckenna Johnson of Kentwood High School (King), Margot Lewis of Belling High School (Whatcom) and Meghan Mulcahy of Olympia High School (Thurston) all received honorable mentions for their recitations.

2013 State Finals

Langston Ward, of Mead High School, in Spokane, won the 2013 state Poetry Out Loud finals with his recitations of The Gift by Li-Young Lee, The Bad Old Days by Kenneth Rexroth, and A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown by Walt Whitman. As the winner of the state final competition, Ward won a $200 prize. In addition, his school received $500 for the purchase of poetry books, and Ward earned an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC, on April 29-30, 2013. This was the second state championship for Ward, who represented Washington state in the 2012 national finals. He placed in the top nine students nationally that year. Read more ...

Watch Past Performances

2014. The Poetry Out Loud 2014 state finals were filmed by Pardiman Productions. Click on the YouTube links below to watch students reciting their selected poems during the competition.

2013. The Poetry Out Loud 2013 state finals were filmed by Pardiman Productions. Click on the links below to watch YouTube video clips of students reciting during the competition:

2012. The Poetry Out Loud 2012 state finals were filmed by Pardiman Productions. Watch the following video clips of students reciting during the competition:

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by  The National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. For more information about this program please send our Poetry Out Loud coordinator an email.

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