Snapshots from the 2022 NEA Poetry Out Loud documentary.
Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition for high school students. Participating students develop public speaking skills. They build self-confidence and learn to connect with literature in new ways, often discovering a new outlet for creative expression.
Poetry Out Loud is supported by The National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. ArtsWA coordinates and manages the program in Washington State.
Poetry Out Loud Spotlights the Voices of Youth in the 2022-23 School Year!
About the Regional and State Finals
Washington State Final
The 2023 Washington State POL State Final Competition took place on Saturday, March 11th beginning at 1pm at Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 North I Street in Tacoma. It was also livestreamed through Tacoma Little Theatre’s Facebook page.
This year’s final competition was hosted by Sah Pham – current Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, and featured the music of the Kareem Kandi World Orchestra.
Congratulations to all the student champions:
Poetry Out Loud
- State Champion: Matthew Valentine from Olympia High School (Olympia)
- Runner Up: Andrea Gyimah from Annie Wright Upper School for Girls (Tacoma)
- Honorable Mention: Keegan Raub representing POL Virtual (Lake Stevens)
Poetry Ourselves – an optional, original poetry contest open to Washington School Champions and students participating in POL Virtual. This was the inaugural year of this feature. Submitted poems were reviewed and judged by 2016-2018 Washington State Poet Laureate, Tod Marshall.
- First Place: Leki Albright from Liberty Bell High School (Winthrop) with Some Things I’ve Learned this Summer
- Second Place: Jovi Weller from Sequim High School (Sequim) with True Beauty
You can view a digital program for the 2023 Poetry Out Loud Washington State Final here.
The state champion receives a $200 cash prize and will represent Washington in the National Finals, held virtually this spring. The state champions’ school receives $500 for the purchase of poetry books.
The runner-up in the state competition receives a $100 cash prize. Their school library receives a $200 cash prize.
The National Final champion receives a $25,000 scholarship and school stipends for poetry books. A total of $50,000 in prizes are awarded to the top students.
The National Semifinals are Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at Lisner Auditorium, The George Washington University. @ 5:00 p.m. ET/ 2:00 p.m. Pacific—Champions from Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
The National Finals will take place on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. Pacific, also at Lisner Auditorium, and will culminate with the live announcement of the 2023 Poetry Out Loud National Champion.
Both days of competition are free and open to the public and available through a one-time-only live webcast at Arts.gov/Poetry-Out-Loud.
Students who are the top scorers at their School Final Competitions, and participants in POL Virtual, will gather at five Regional Final Competitions to determine which students will advance to the State Final Competition in Tacoma, on March 11th, 2023.
- Emilee Shoemaker – Naches Valley High School (Naches)
- Dahami Uduwana – Kamiakin High School (Kennewick)
- Sydney Frost – Mt Spokane High School (Mead)
- Elijah Kennedy-Gibbens – Mead High School (Spokane)
- Andrea Gyimah – Annie Wright Upper School for Girls (Tacoma)
- Jovi Weller – Sequim High School (Sequim)
- Oliver Jones – Stadium High School (Tacoma)
- Matthew Valentine – Olympia High School (Olympia)
- Keegan Raub (Lake Stevens)
Poetry Breaks Down Barriers
Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. – Maya Angelou
Please note: these dates may be subject to adjustment.
- School Registration Opens: August 21, 2023
- POL Online Anthology Updated by the National Office: September 1, 2023
- POL Virtual Registration Opens: September 18, 2023
- Registration deadline (all): November 17, 2023
- Classroom implementation & POL Virtual: between September 2023 and early January 2024
- School Finals deadline: January 19, 2024
- Regional Finals deadline: February 4, 2024; regional finals dates vary by region
- State Final: March 9, 2024, at 1:00 p.m., hosted by Tacoma Little Theatre
- National Finals: April 30 – May 2, 2024 in Washington, D.C.
Who can participate?
All students and schools grades 9-12 may register to participate in the Washington State Poetry Out Loud program. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Students advance from classroom competitions to school-wide competitions. School champions progress to the regional competition. Regional champions move on to the state final. Finally, one student from each state advances to the National Finals.
POL Virtual makes it possible for students who do not attend schools that register for Poetry Out Loud, and homeschooled students, to participate in the program.
If you are a student or teacher wishing to participate, please visit our Register for Poetry Out Loud page for details.
Washington first piloted Poetry Out Loud in 2005. In that first year, the program included just eight high schools in Thurston County. The program has grown to include over 60 schools from across the state. In the 2019-20 school year, over 18,000 students participated.
Washington has consistently ranked in the top five nationally in student participation. Washington State Champions continue to be strong contenders at the National Poetry Out Loud competition. Langston Ward of Spokane became our first National Champion in 2013.
National Program Sponsors
Washington Program Partners
ArtsWA partners with organizations across the state. These partners support school and student participation and regional finals.
ArtsWA engages teacher leadership in guiding the program, and exploring opportunities for teachers and students to further connect through poetry. For the 2022-23 school year Carolyn Gilman, from Olympia High School, will bring her decade and more of knowledge and enthusiasm for Poetry Out Loud to the role of statewide Teacher Liaison.
If you have additional questions, contact our Poetry Out Loud coordinator by email.
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