Wyoming Arts Council

Poetry Out Loud

The Power of Poetry 

The Voices of Our Youth Command Our Future

Poetry Out Loud 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 Poetry Out Loud. 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 proudly hosts a Poetry Out Loud state competition each year, growing steadily since its start in 2005.

About 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.

High school students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud is one of the most anticipated spoken word arts competition. The 2020 competition encompassed 16 counties, 20 teachers, and reaching more than 620 students statewide.

2020 Poetry Out Loud State Champions

Abbi Wingfield, Thunder Basin High School State Champion
Campbell County

Chelsea Elwood, Kaycee School Runner Up
Johnson County

Megan Abraham, Lovell High School Third Place
Big Horn County

How Poetry Out Loud Works

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

Classroom winners advance to a school wide competition. School champions are then treated to an unforgettable two days at the Wyoming Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Cheyenne, and a chance to compete in the national competition in Washington, D.C.

The Wyoming State Champion receives:

  • $200 cash prize and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
  • $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.


September 1, 2020 POL Anthology available for 2020-21 school year

January 27, 2021 Deadline to register your school for State Competition

February 2021
If the Wyoming State Competition has to move to an online environment due to COVID-19, schools would be notified of this change during the first week in February. School Champions would compete live through an online portal, such as Zoom.

February 19, 2021 Deadline to host school competitions

February 22, 2021 Deadline to submit school representative info for State Competition

March 1, 2021 Wyoming State Competition**, Cheyenne Civic Center, 1 – 7 pm

March 2, 2021 Awards Ceremony, Wyoming State Captiol, 10 am
March 18, 2021 Deadline for state champions & chaperones to register for National Finals

April 26 – 28, 2021 Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC

In the event that public gatherings are limited in size and scope due to COVID-19, Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud State Competition will be moved to an online environment. School champions would then compete live through an online portal, such as Zoom or Google Meet. The online state event would be held on Monday, March 1st from 10 am to 5 pm. Additional details would follow. The presentation of awards would also be held virtually. Time and additional details to follow.

All Wyoming public, private and, parochial high schools, and home school associations are eligible to participate in POL. (Participating students must be in grades 9-12 or in the age/grade equivalent.) Only a teacher or administrator can register a school to participate in Poetry Out Loud.

Registration for the 2020-2021 Poetry Out Loud competition is now open!

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 on the national Poetry Out Loud website.

For more information on Poetry Out Loud visit the POL website or contact the Wyoming Arts Council.

Read about Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud winners