Wyoming Arts Council

Wyoming Arts Council announces Abbi Wingfield as the 2020 Poetry Out Loud state champion

Abbi Wingfield from Thunder Basin High School in Gillette, Wyo., won the title of 2020 Poetry Out Loud Wyoming State Champion. More than 620 students participated in Poetry Out Loud across the state, with 14 high school champions advancing to the state finals, held in Cheyenne, Wyo. on March 2, 2020. The first runner-up was Chelsea Elwood from Kaycee School in Kaycee, Wyo. Abbi’s final recitation was “Cathedral of Salt” by poet Nick Flynn.

When Governor Mark Gordon announced her name, Abbi was speechless. “I thought I was dreaming to be honest,” she said. The high school senior noted, “It was a tough competition.”Abbi received an award of $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete at the Poetry Out Loud national finals April 28-29, 2020. Supporters can cheer on Abbi through a live, one-time-only webcast of the Poetry Out Loud national finals on April 28-29, 2020 at arts.gov. Fans can also host a Poetry Out Loud webcast viewing party to learn more about the art of poetry recitation.Born and raised in Gillette, this will be Abbi’s first trip to the nation’s capital. “I’m super excited and nervous,” she said.

Abbi’s high school, Thunder Basin, received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. Chelsea Eldwood received $100, with $200 for her school library. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded and travel arrangements to the Poetry Out Loud national finals. 

Guest judges presided over the state competition, including Eugene Gagliano, Wyoming Poet Laureate, Chad Hanson, award-winning poet and college educator from Casper, Mandie Hines, poet and author from Cheyenne,, and Jeremy Rich, poet and educator from Cheyenne,. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, accuracy, and evidence of understanding. 

A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts (arts.gov), the Poetry Foundation (poetryfoundation.org), and state arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. Since the program began in 2005, more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.

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