Poetry Out Loud

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The Poetry Out Loud: Recitation Contest was created in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts under chairman Dana Gioia and The Poetry Foundation. The contest seeks to increase awareness in the art of performing poetry, with substantial cash prizes being awarded to schools that participate, and includes representatives from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The contest features a list of about 600 poems for students to choose from. In some cases, qualifiers were held at a scholastic level with each student performing two poems. The finalist from each school went to the state level to perform three, and the state finalists later performed the same three poems in Washington D.C. during the second week of May, 2006.


Originally created as a means by which students could become more involved in poetry and the spoken word, the Poetry Out Loud competition is currently run in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Each state runs its own competition relatively independent of all others. In general, a high school competition is followed by a statewide competition. State Champions then compete in Washington D.C. for the top prize. In order to facilitate a smooth and effective competition, competitors are divided into three groups, or regions. Each region holds its own semifinal, and sends four competitors to the final round. The final 12 then each recite two poems, and the top five recite a third poem. after this third poem has been recited, judges (usually celebrities of the poetry world, or well-known literary figures) select the Winner, and two runners-up.

2006 winners[edit]

The 2006 State Champions of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.

Jackson Hille of Columbus Alternative High School in Ohio is the National Champion. He received a $20,000 scholarship courtesy of the National Endowment for the Arts. Other honors went to Teal Van Dyck of Bow High School in New Hampshire, who won second place and a $10,000 scholarship. Kellie Anae of Mid-Pacific Institute in Hawaii won third place and a $5,000 scholarship.[1]

2007 winners[edit]

The 2007 National Poetry Out Loud Champion was Amanda Fernandez, of the District of Columbia. Branden Emanual Wellington of Indiana placed second, and third place went to Alanna Rivera, of Virginia.

2008 winners[edit]

Representing the Virgin Islands, Shawntay Henry became the 2008 National Champion; the first time the Virgin Islands participated in the competition. Ms. Henry was a 10th grade student at the time of her award. Her competition winning poems included "Fredrick Douglas", by Robert Hayden; the performance of which was notably powerful.

2009 winners[edit]

With the Poetry Out Loud program growing at an incredible rate, more than 300,000 students competed in the nationwide competition in 2009. First Place went to the Representative from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, William Farley. Second place was awarded to Barbara Gooding, of Kentucky. Kareem Sayegh, representing Illinois, was awarded third place. Rounding out the top five were Mido Aly, of Ohio, and Wiyaka His Horse Is Thunder, of South Dakota.

2010 winners[edit]

First Place went to the representative from Rhode Island, Amber Rose Johnson. Second place was awarded to Ruth Haile, of South Dakota. Nora Sandler, representing Maryland, was awarded third place.

2011 winners[edit]

Youssef Biaz of Auburn High School in Auburn, Alabama captured the national title with his reading of Elizabeth Bishop's "Filling Station". The runner-up prize went to Victoria DiMartile of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, while DeVonna Daisy Smith of Reading, Pennsylvania placed third.[2]

2012 winners[edit]

Kristen Dupard of Ridgeland, Mississippi was named the 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion. Rounding out the top three were Claude Mumbere of Burlington, Vermont in second place and MarKaye Hassan of Logan, Utah in third place.


  1. ^ "Making Poetry Come Alive: Poetry Out Loud 2006 National Finals" Archived 2008-07-04 at the Wayback Machine., NEA ARTS 2006, Volume 3, National Endowment for the Arts. Accessed January 26, 2008.
  2. ^ THE 2011 NATIONAL FINALS, retrieved May 10, 2011.

External links[edit]