Poetry Out Loud

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.

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers across the nation by capitalizing on trends in poetry recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, the spoken word, and theatre into the English classroom. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Since 2006, five Utah winners have ranked in the national top ten. In 2012, MarKaye Hassan of Logan High School placed third and received $5,000. She returned to Washington, D.C., to recite at the National Book Festival. In 2008, Skyline High School senior Madison Niermeyer also placed third and received $5,000. Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote Madison a letter congratulating her on her recitation of his poem “I Am Waiting.” Ashlei Havili of American Fork High School in 2014 and Devon Jones of West Jordan High School in 2015 both received honorable mentions, and they each received $1,000.

Contact justinivie@utah.gov for more information. 

2023 Poetry Out Loud Competition

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums held the 2023 state finals competition for Poetry Out Loud on March 8 at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Regional champion students from across the state performed poetry recitations and competed for cash awards and the chance to represent Utah at the national finals in Washington, D.C. in May. Students also submitted their own poetry to the Original Poem Competition. 

The Poetry Out Loud winner was Aeva Dye-DelToro of Dixie High School in St. George. She will receive an all-expense-paid trip for two to the national competition. The runner-up was Tony Trunnell of Springville High School in Springville. 

Aeva will receive $200 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, who will also donate $500 to her school library for the purchase of poetry books. Tony will receive $100 from the NEA and the Poetry Foundation, and his school receives $200 to purchase books of poetry. In addition to these awards from the NEA and the Poetry Foundation, Utah Division of Arts & Museums also awards $200 to Aeva and $100 to Tony. 

The other talented regional finalists competing were: 

Alexis Bailey, Monticello High School, Monticello
Elizabeth Butcher, Union High School, Roosevelt
Aliya Purcel, Bear River High School, Garland
Jackson Shemwell, Juan Diego Catholic High School, Draper
Keilana Tu’itupou, Salt Lake Center for Science Education, Salt Lake City 

National Poetry Out Loud Resources

2023 Original Poem Competition

Utah 9th-12th graders write and submit their own original poem(s). Cash awards are given to winning students whose poems address current social, environmental, and health challenges facing Utah and the United States.

Kellen Hunnicutt of West High School in Salt Lake City won the Original Poem Competition with “Counterfeit” and will receive a $200 cash award. Brynn Patterson of Viewmont High School in Bountiful was the runner-up with “Eat Less” and will receive a $100 award. Both students recited their poems at the competition. 

Poetry Out Loud Video

Here's a video highlighting Poetry Out Loud. Please enjoy and feel free to share!

The Poetry Out Loud logo.
National Endowment for the Arts.