Announcing the 2020 Poetry Out Loud State Champion

Mead High School’s Jordon Mattox is the 2020 Poetry Out Loud State Champion.

UPDATE: As the State Poetry Out Loud Champion, Jordan Mattox, a junior at Spokane’s Mead High School was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. However, in an unprecedented move, the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation has canceled the event over concerns of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic.

OLYMPIA,WA – Jordan Mattox, a junior at Mead High School in Spokane, is the 2020 Poetry Out Loud Washington State Champion. She was among 12 high school students who competed at the State Final held March 7 at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.

“I didn’t start off absolutely loving poetry, but once you find a poem that really resonates with you, your appreciation for just literature in general can be deepened so quickly. That’s what happened to me,” said Jordan. “It’s such a great way for one to express themselves and it’s a way to share with other people things that are important to you—it’s why Poetry Out Loud is so important to me.”

The first runner-up was Madeline Luther, a senior from Okanogan High School in Okanogan. Honorable mentions went to Yeshi Berry, a senior at Vancouver School or Arts and Academics in Vancouver; Mercy Haub, a sophomore at Shorewood High School in Shoreline; and Cooper Siems, a freshman at Concordia Christian Academy in Tacoma.

Poetry Out Loud is a national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) is the coordinating agency in our state. All participating students choose and memorize poems from the official Poetry Out Loud anthology. At the state and national finals, students are required to have three poems prepared. Jordan Mattox’s poems included Art vs. Trade by James Weldon Johnson, and It Couldn’t Be Done by Edgar Albert Guest, with Thoughtless Cruelty by Charles Lamb as the final recitation. Watch Jordan recite Art vs. Trade by James Weldon Johnson.

Poetry Out Loud competitions are a pyramid structure. Students advance from classrooms to school-wide competitions, and each school sends its top student to a regional competition. ArtsWA partnered with six regions to support participation and the regional finals across the state:
Eastern Washington, coordinated by Spokane Arts
Southeast Washington, coordinated by Mid-Columbia Libraries
Central Washington, coordinated by Yakima Valley College
Puget Sound, coordinated by ArtsWA
Northwest Washington, coordinated by Skagit River Poetry Foundation,
Southwest Washington, coordinated by Educational Service District 112

At each stage, student recitations are judged against Poetry Out Loud evaluation criteria. Criteria include physical presence, voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, and accuracy. Poems must be recited word-for-word exactly as it appears in the Poetry Out Loud anthology.

This year’s Poetry Out Loud State Final judges included: Daemond Arrindell, Poet, Playwright, Performer, and Teaching ArtistJanet Hayakawa, Program Supervisor for the Arts for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); Aira Jackson, English Language Arts and Literacy Director for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); Matt Malyon, Founding Director of Underground Writing in Skagit County; Rosanna Sharpe, Executive Director of the REACH Museum in Richland, member of the ArtsWA board of commissioners; and Langston Collins Wilkins, the Director of the Center for Cultural Traditions.

Washington State Champion Jordan Mattox will receive an award of $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete at the national championship. Mead High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. First runner-up, Madeline Luther will receive $100, with $200 for her school’s library.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Artsthe Poetry Foundation, and Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA). Additional local support was provided by the Servco Foundation. For more information about the Washington State program, contact Tamar Krames, Arts in Education program Manager and Poetry Out Loud Program Director.

Read more about Poetry Out Loud in Washington State.

About ArtsWAArtsWA is the Washington State Arts Commission, a state government agency established in 1961. ArtsWA works to be a catalyst for the arts, advancing the role of the arts in the lives of individuals and communities throughout the state. Programs include Art in Public Places, Arts in Education, Grants to Organizations, and other special projects. For more information visit arts.wa.gov.

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