high school students
Photo by Jesse Gardner.

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 2021-22 School Year!

Teacher-to-Teacher Sessions

  • Session #3 | Tuesday, December 7, 3 p.m.-4 p.m. | This session focuses on coaching recitations and preparing
    for competitions. Advance registration required.

Important Dates

Please note: these dates may be subject to adjustment.


  • Registration Opens: August 16, 2021
  • Registration deadline: November 19, 2021
  • Classroom implementation & POL Virtual: between September 2021 and early January 2022
  • School Finals deadline: January 21, 2022
  • Regional Finals deadline: February 7, 2022; regional finals dates vary by region
  • State Final (virtual): March 12, 2022 at Tacoma Little Theatre
  • National Finals:  Spring of 2022 (it was announced on 11.19.21 that the national competition would be held virtually again in 2022)

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.

NEW! 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 2021 State Final was broadcast on Tuesday, March 16th beginning at 6:30pm. This public broadcast can be viewed through You Tube.

Lucy Shainin, a junior at Anacortes High School in Skagit County, is the 2021 Poetry Out Loud Washington State Champion. Rising to the top from a competitive field of over 6,000 students from 28 schools across the state in a revised virtual competition, Shainin was among the 10 high school students—all regional Poetry Out Loud champions—who competed in the State Final.

Micah Stewart, a junior at Cedar Tree Classical Christian School in Clark County, was named first runner-up. Honorable mentions went to Jenna Elsammak, a freshman at Kamiakin High School in Benton County; Cooper Siems, a sophomore at Concordia Christian Academy in Pierce County; and Bethany Tuchardt, a senior at Battle Ground High School in Clark County.

The state champion receives a $200 cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., (with a chaperone) to compete in the National Finals. 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.

Regional Finals

All Regional Finals for the 2020-21 school year took place virtually and were not open to the general public. Regional Champions from the four regional competitions are listed below. These ten champions advanced to the State Final in March 2021.


  • Jenna Elsammak, Kamiakin High School (Kennewick)
  • Ashlee Robinson, Naches Valley High School (Yakima)


  • Leki Albright, Liberty Bell High School (Winthrop)
  • Jonah Rieder, Mead High School (Spokane)


  • Hillary Curd, Mt Si High School (Snoqualmie)
  • Clio Erignac, International Community School (Kirkland)
  • Lucy Shainin, Anacortes High School (Anacortes)


  • Cooper Siems, Concordia Christian Academy (Tacoma)
  • Micah Stewart, Cedar Tree Classical Christian (Ridgefield)
  • Bethany Tuchardt, Battle Ground High School (Battle Ground)

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 also engages teacher leadership in guiding the program, and exploring opportunities for teachers and students to further connect through poetry.

  • East Side: Dori Whitford, Mead High School, Spokane
  • West Side: Amy Solo, North Thurston High School, Lacey

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