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Poetry Out Loud Idaho

Welcome to Poetry Out Loud, a super fun poem recitation contest for high school students in Idaho. Won’t you join us?

Register for the 2021-2022 season

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest that encourages 9th-12th grade students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

The program is completely free for participating schools, libraries, and home schools. When you register, you’ll receive curricular materials and dedicated support to create a program that fits your students. Poetry Out Loud can be adapted for use in-person or online, and the scope and timing of your contest is decided by your school.

Bring Poetry Out Loud to Your Students

Each school year, this program invites thousands of students, teachers, and librarians to deeply engage with poetry and performance. Students read and interpret a broad range of poems, from classical to contemporary, and then they choose one to memorize and perform in a dynamic contest at their school or library.

The winner of each institution-level contest is invited to the state final in Boise, and our Idaho champion goes on to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Final for prizes totaling $50,000 in cash awards and school stipends. It’s a pretty big deal!

Idaho schools and organizations are registered by a staff member who serves as the POL lead, acting as the primary contact and coordinating organization-wide activity. Non-school organizations, such as home school cooperatives, libraries, and non-profits, are also welcome to host Poetry Out Loud.

2021-2022 Season

Dates & Deadlines

December 15, 2021 
Registration closes
Participation counts due to poetryoutloud@arts.idaho.gov

February 9, 2022
Deadline to hold a contest at your institution & submit champion info

February 16, 2022
Deadline for champs to submit two poem recitation videos to the remote Idaho State Semifinals

February 17, 2022
Remote judging of Idaho State Semifinals recitation videos

February 18, 2022
Top 12 Idaho State Finalists announced
Travel arrangements made for finalists coming to Boise

March 12, 2022
Idaho State Finals in-person in Boise

March 17, 2022
Deadline for state champion to register for National Finals

Spring 2022, date TBA
Poetry Out Loud National Finals held remotely via video submission

Questions? Contact Laura Roghaar, Idaho Poetry Out Loud Coordinator at PoetryOutLoud@arts.idaho.gov.


2020-2021 Season

The Poetry Out Loud Idaho Finals were held virtually February 26-March 3, 2021. True Leavitt from Xavier Charter School (Twin Falls) took top honors for his recitations of Dyed Carnations by Robyn Schiff, Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam by Dan Vera and Revenge by Letitia Elizabeth Landon. Julia Ott from Sun Valley Community School and Elisabeth Edmonds from Lake City High School (Coeur d’Alene), rounded out the top three. Leavitt will now compete at the national level.

About winning 2021 Poetry Out Loud Idaho State Champion title, Leavitt says, “I’ve enjoyed Poetry Out Loud every year since I first started competing in elementary school. It’s strengthened my confidence, instilled in me a love of poetry, and has inspired me to start writing my own poems. I’m excited to represent Idaho at nationals!”

Amanda Loosli, Poetry Out Loud program lead teacher at Xavier Charter School, says, “I have been using Poetry Out Loud in my classroom for more than ten years. I love this program for many reasons, but most of all for how it grows a deep love of poetry in my students.”

During the 2020-2021 season, 1,982 students and 91 teachers at 26 Idaho schools and libraries participated in Poetry Out Loud. The winner of each school or library competition advanced to the remote state semi-finals, where 12 were selected to move on to the finals.

2021 POL Idaho State Final Judges & Contestants

The Idaho State champion receives $200 and the opportunity to compete for the national championship. The champion’s school also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals.


2019-2020 Season

Kieran Ellis, Kuna High School Idaho State Poetry Out Loud winner 2020

The Poetry Out Loud Idaho Finals were held on Saturday, March 7th, 2020 at the South Junior High Auditorium in Boise. 9 students, from across the state, competed in the annual poetry recitation competition final. Kieran Ellis, a senior from Kuna High School took top honors for his recitation of For the Dogs Who Barked at Me on the Sidewalks in Connecticut by Hanif Abdurraqib, Son/daughter by Kai Conradi and Song: Go and catch a falling star by John Donne. Jaidyn Bruner of Mountain Home High School and Kyran Cates of Teton High School, rounded out the top three.

Idaho State finalist, Kieran Ellis, will receive $200 and $500 will go to Kuna High School for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up, Jaidyn Bruner receives $100, with $200 for her school library.

Competitors also had the opportunity to participate in the Poetry Ourselves competition by submitting original works of poetry in spoken or written form.

A companion to Poetry Out Loud, the Poetry Ourselves competition gives students the opportunity to submit original poetry. This year, Poetry Ourselves submissions were judged by poet Carmen Gimenéz Smith. The competition was open to state champions as well as students who advanced to their state final in states that were unable to hold a competition this year.

Kieran Ellis, the 2020 Idaho Poetry Out Loud State Champion and a student at Kuna High School in Kuna, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves written poetry winner for the poem “Drought.”

Photos by Chelsea Harada

In the 2019-2020 school year, Idaho Poetry Out Loud had 2,933 students and 91 teachers participating in 27 high schools across the state. The winner of each school competition advanced to the state semi-finals in Boise where 9 were selected to move on to the finals: Jaidyn Bruner (Mountain Home High School), Kyran Cates (Teton High School), Kieran Ellis (Kuna High School), Madison Hashagen (Ririe High School), Ashley Mio (Fruitland High School), Rachel Newcomb (Eagle High School), Julia Ott (Sun Valley Community School), Maria Palmer (Classical Christian Academy), and Gabriel Sevy (Sugar-Salem High School).

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with state arts agencies, including the Idaho Commission on the Arts to support Poetry Out Loud.

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