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!

Important Dates

Please note: these dates may be subject to adjustment.


  • School Registration Opens: August 22, 2022
  • POL Online Anthology Updated by the National Office: September 1, 2022
  • POL Virtual Registration Opens: September 19, 2022
  • Registration deadline (all): November 18, 2022
  • Classroom implementation & POL Virtual: between September 2022 and early January 2023
  • School Finals deadline: January 20, 2023
  • Regional Finals deadline: February 5, 2023; regional finals dates vary by region
  • State Final: March 11, 2023 hosted by Tacoma Little Theatre
  • National Finals: May 8-10, 2023 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.

Poetry Breaks Down Barriers

Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. – Maya Angelou

About the Regional and State Finals

Washington State Final

The 2023 Washington State POL State Final Competition will take place on Saturday, March 11th beginning at 1pm at Tacoma Little Theatre.

The 2022 Poetry Out Loud Washington State Final was held virtually on Saturday, March 12th with a limited invited audience. The event was released in a fully produced video featuring all nine regional champions. This year’s final competition was be hosted by Zinnia Hansen – current Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, and features the music of the Kareem Kandi World Orchestra.

Congratulations to all our Student Champions!

  • State Champion: Lucy Shainin from Anacortes High School 
  • State Runner Up: Kate Gemmell from Kamiakin High School 
  • State Finalist: Serena Jensen from Bickleton High School 

You can view a digital program for the 2022 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.

National Finals champions receive a $25,000 scholarship and school stipends for poetry books. A total of $50,000 in prizes are awarded to the top students.

You can view the 2022 State Final broadcast on You Tube.

Regional Finals

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.


Saturday, February 4th at 1pm – Kendall Hall, Yakima Valley College Campus (South) 16th Ave. & Nob Hill Blvd


Thursday, February 2nd at 7pm – Spokane Public Library Central branch – 906 W. Main Avenue


Saturday, January 28th at 1:45pm – Skagit Valley College campus – Phillip Tarro Theatre, 2405 E College Way, Mount Vernon


Wednesday, February 1st at 5pm – Online. Check back for link closer to the event date.


Saturday, February 4th at 10am – Online from Tacoma Little Theatre. Join via Zoom.

Program History

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.

Watch recitations by previous State Finalists

National Program Sponsors

Washington Program Partners

ArtsWA partners with organizations across the state. These partners support school and student participation and regional finals.

Eastern Washington:
Spokane Arts

Central Washington:
Yakima Valley College

Northwest Washington:
Skagit Valley Poetry Foundation

Southwest Washington:
ESD #112

POL Virtual:
Tacoma Little Theatre

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.

Contact Us

If you have additional questions, contact our Poetry Out Loud coordinator by email.


Social Media

ArtsWA Facebook | ArtsWA Twitter | POL Facebook  | Poetry Out Loud Twitter | Poetry Foundation