Wyoming Arts Council

Poetry Out Loud

Through an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered statewide by the Wyoming Arts Council, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

The Power of Poetry

The Voices of Our Youth Command Our Future

Poetry Out Loud (POL) inspires high school students to find their voice and the confidence to make themselves heard, using one of the most powerful tools at their disposal—art.

Poetry in education has experienced a Renaissance through this program. Students are given the opportunity to interact with the words of the masters through recitation, building a relationship with the works and creating a sense of shared ownership branded by their own technique of volume, pitch, pace, and personal point of view. The Wyoming Arts Council has proudly hosted the Wyoming Poetry Out Loud State Competition since 2005.

How Poetry Out Loud Works

The structure of the competition is similar to a spelling bee. This annual program starts in the fall, with high school teachers using the free POL teacher toolkit and related materials to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions.

Classroom winners then advance to a school wide competition. School champions advance to the state finals in Cheyenne for a chance to represent Wyoming in the national competition.

The Wyoming State Champion receives:

  • $200 cash prize
  • $500 for their school to purchase literary materials
  • An opportunity to compete at the National Finals for college scholarship funds

Visit poetryoutloud.org for detailed information and to check out POL action across the country.

Poetry Out Loud Wyoming Blue Logo

The 2023-2024 Program Timeline

  • September 1, 2023 POL Anthology available for the 2023-2024 school year, and registration for state competition opens
  • December 15, 2023 Deadline to register your school for the State Competition
  • February 9, 2024 Deadline to host school competitions & Deadline to submit written poetry for Poetry Ourselves
  • February 16, 2024 Deadline to submit school representative info for the State Competition
  • February 25, 2024 Poetry Ourselves State Competition & Open Mic in Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • February 26, 2024 Wyoming State Competition in Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • March 21, 2024 Deadline for state champions & chaperones to register for National Finals
  • April 30-May 2, 2024 Poetry Out Loud Finals in Washington, DC

Registration for 2024 is closed. Sign-ups for 2025 will open in September.

Teacher and Organizer Resources

Registered schools will receive free multi-media toolkits which include: a teacher’s guide complete with lesson plans, guidance on classroom contests, evaluation criteria, posters, and customizable contest announcement poster. In addition, teachers will receive updates and support from the WY Poetry Out Loud Coordinator throughout the year.

The anthology and a digital copy of the curriculum guide, the official rules and eligibility, and tips for organizing a school competition can be found here.

Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud Winner, Elora Umbach (2023)

2023 Wyoming state Poetry Out Loud winner, Elora Umbach.

Press Release: Wyoming’s 2023 Poetry Out Loud State Winner

Artscapes Feature: Read about Elora Umbach in Artscapes (Summer 2023)

Winner: Elora Umbach, Penn Foster High School, Natrona County

Runner-up: Briley Farris, Buffalo High School, Buffalo, Johnson County

Third Place: Joesphine Haberkorn, Cheyenne East High School, Cheyenne, Laramie County

Previous Wyoming Poetry Out Loud Winners

2022: Bailee Vargas, Senior, Fremont County Homeschool Group, Fremont County

2021: Raylene Jones, Junior at Natrona County High School, Casper, Natrona County

2020: Abbi Wingfield, Senior, Thunder Basin High School, Gillette, Campbell County

2019: Lauren Haiar, Senior, Sundance Secondary School, Sundance, Crook County (3-time winner)

2018: Lauren Haiar, Junior, Sundance Secondary School, Sundance, Crook County (2-time winner)

2017: Lauren Haiar, Sophomore, Sundance Secondary School, Sundance, Crook County

2016: Lucy Martinez, Senior, Summit High School, Jackson, Teton County

2015: Dylan Collins, Senior, Arvada-Clearmont High School, Clearmont, Sheridan County

2014: Sara Ellingrod, Senior, Arvada-Clearmont High School, Clearmont, Sheridan County (4-time winner)

2013: Sara Ellingrod, Junior, Arvada-Clearmont High School, Clearmont, Sheridan County (3-time winner)

2012: Sara Ellingrod, Sophomore, Arvada-Clearmont High School, Clearmont, Sheridan County (2-time winner)

2011: Sara Ellingrod, Freshman, Arvada-Clearmont High School, Clearmont, Sheridan County

2010: Judah Lovato, Senior, Arvada-Clearmont High School, Clearmont, Sheridan County

2009: Danielle Then, Senior, Guernsey-Sunrise High School, Guernsey, Platte County

2008: Caila Booth, Senior, Buffalo High School, Johnson County

Contact: Amara Fehring