The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with the Utah Arts & Museums Arts Education Program to support Poetry Out Loud, which encourages Utah’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

2020-21 Poetry Out Loud Registration

School Registration

Individual Student Registration

About Poetry out Loud

POL uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Every school winner or individual student (if home-schooled or individually participating) must compete at a regional level competition. Regional competitions take place throughout February. Each region will advance one winner to the state final competition in March.

Due to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 Pandemic, this year's POL will be a video submission-based competition at the regional  level. More details will be provided by POL's regional coordinators after teachers or individual students (if home-schooled or individually participating) have registered. The state final competition will take place on March 8, 2021 via Zoom.

Teachers who register and participate in this year's competition will receive a $50 stipend and teachers that participate in judging will receive an additional $200 for their time and expertise.

For details regarding Utah’s POL activities, email Jean Irwin at or call 801.236.7559.

For full details on the national poetry recitation competition, visit

Recitation and performance are major trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music. Poetry Out Loud builds on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English and theatre class.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation release preliminary findings about the efficacy of Poetry Out Loud for students. POL Evaluation Study findings: Patricia Moore Shaffer, PhD, Deputy Director of Research & Analysis at the NEA. 
•          Key Findings: Academic Engagement
•          Key Findings: Social-Emotional Development
•          Key Findings: Poetry Appreciation & Engagement

Original Poem Competition

Original Poem Competition

9th-12th grade Utah students write and present their own original poem(s). Awards will be given to students writing poems that address current social, environmental and health challenges facing Utah and the United States. Memorization is optional, but accuracy will not be scored. Students may choose to read a longer poem. Students may opt to participate in either the Original Poem Competition, Poetry Out Loud or both.


  • Students write and present one or two original poems.
  • Poems must be 25 lines or less (each line of 12 pt type with one-inch margins counts as one line).
  • Poems may be in free verse, Haiku, rhyme, or other accepted poetry forms.
  • Students may submit a maximum of ten Haikus.
  • The title must be listed above the poem. DO NOT include the name of the student.
  • Students must complete submission form.
  • Upload poems in pdf.

Poems are due by Monday, March 1, 2021
Submit poems at

2020 Poetry Out Loud State Finals

Olivia Slaughter earned a trip to Washington, D.C. and a chance to win $20,000 in the national finals of Poetry Out Loud after winning the state competition on Wednesday, March 11 at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

Slaughter, a student at Salt Lake Center for Science Education, recited three poems during the state competition. They included “Passing,” by Toi Derricotte; “They are hostile nations,” by Margaret Atwood; and “Love Armed,” by Aphra Behn. 

Here is a video of Slaughter reciting her poems. 

The seven finalists each read three selections chosen from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems. All of the contestants must memorize their selected poems and perform them solo on a stage lit by nothing more than a spotlight.

The runner-up was Aeva Dye of Dixie Middle School in St. George. 

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The state Poetry Out Loud competition is presented annually by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.

The finalists were selected from regional competitions held earlier this year. Other contestants included:

Abigail Fisher - Merit Academy
Adam Semandeni - Vernal High School
Aizlinn Soledad - Ogden High School
Isabella Bertagnolli - Juan Diego Catholic School
Kambree Adams - Bear River High School 

2019 Poetry Out Loud Finals

Click HERE to watch a video about the 2019 POL competition.


Jean Tokuda Irwin
Arts Education Manager

Claudia Borjas
Arts Education Coordinator