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Poetry Out Loud Idaho

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation competition that encourages 9th-12th grade students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. The Idaho Commission on the Arts joins other state arts agencies in partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to support Poetry Out Loud.

The 2020-2021 season of Poetry Out Loud can be completed in person, entirely online, or following a hybrid model. The Idaho State Championship will be conducted online between February 24 and March 14, 2021. Judges will review recorded student recitations and notify the state champion on March 15, 2021.

Idaho schools wishing to participate must be registered by a member of that school’s staff. One teacher at each registered school will serve as the Lead Teacher, acting as the primary program contact and coordinating school-level activity among the others participating. Non-school organizations, such as after school clubs, libraries, or non-profit organizations, may also choose to run Poetry Out Loud. Students may only compete in one stream—either with their school or an organization.

Register for the 2020-2021 season of Poetry Out Loud

Upon acceptance of a registration, teachers and organizers will receive curricular materials including access to the online poetry anthology, lesson plans, and promotional and media guides. Materials are sent to schools or organizations as they are accepted through the beginning of the school year, and the program is run through early winter. Poetry Out Loud does not require full class periods and can be completed in 2-3 weeks in person or online, depending on your need.

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Winners advance from small group competitions to school or organization-wide, regional, and then state level competitions. There will be an option for online participation at each level of the competition. One student from each state advances to the National Finals; each state level winner will receive $200 and an opportunity to compete in the national championship (held virtually in spring 2021). The state winner’s school or organization will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. A runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school or organization. Additionally, a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded at the National Finals.

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


2019-2020 Season

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

The Idaho Commission on the Arts is excited to share the results of the Idaho Poetry Out Loud Finals which 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 have partnered with state arts agencies, including the Idaho Commission on the Arts to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.

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