Our Stories, Our Lives

Poetry Out Loud

What is Poetry Out Loud?

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition for high school students. By encouraging youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Participating high schools host their own competitions and select a student to represent their school at the state finals.  The state champion will advance to the national finals in Washington, D.C. and compete for a $20,000 college scholarship. School champions will be invited to participate in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, a three-day event featuring the finest artistic talent in Michigan high schools. Nearly 80,000 students from more than 50 Michigan high schools have participated in Poetry Out Loud programs since 2005.

2017–18 Schedule (subject to revision):

  • September 2017 to January 2018: Schools incorporate Poetry Out Loud into curriculum, hold school competitions.
  • Dec. 1, 2017: Application deadline for interested schools.
  • January 26, 2018: Deadline to submit winning student.
  • March 1–2, 2018: State Finals, Crowne Plaza, Lansing.
  • April 23–25, 2018: National Finals, Washington, D.C.

Application and Teacher Resources

  • School/Teacher Application
  • Permission forms for use of image and recording (Under 18)  (Over 18)
  • Travel reimbursement form (Teacher evaluations required prior to travel reimbursement distribution)
  • Lead teacher evaluation form
  • Student evaluation forms: Students may complete their surveys on paper (PDF). Student paper surveys must be collated and submitted as part of the lead teacher evaluation forms (above).
  • School Champion Form
  • Eligible poems
  • Teacher’s Guide
  • Teaching Resources

2017 State Competition Results

MaryKate Wright of Owosso High School, was named the 2017 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion after a day-long recitation competition at Lansing Convention Center in Lansing on March 3. Ms. Wright took top honors among 39 student competitors, reciting “When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats in her final round. First runner-up was Lyndon DeFoe of University High School Academy in Lathrup Village, second runnerup was Arrianna Lister of Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, and a tie for third runner-up was Paige MacGillis of Williamston High School and Grace Garver of Petoskey High School.

“The Michigan Humanities Council was proud to see the students and their wonderful talent today,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, Executive Director. “Young people are the hope for the future of Humanities and we look forward to watching MaryKate represent Michigan at the National Competition in April. We are so proud of each one of the students that have taken part of Poetry Out Loud this year.”

Left to right: Lyndon DeFoe, MaryKate Wright,Paige MacGillis, Grace Garver, and Arrianna Lister

As the state champion, MaryKate received a $200 cash award, $500 stipend for her school and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Michigan at the National Poetry Out Loud competition in April 2017. The national competition will be live-streamed at www.poetryoutloud.org. Lyndon, as runner-up, received a $100 cash award and $200 for his school. All five state finalists will receive plaques commemorating their achievement. The national champion will receive a $20,000 college scholarship.

Poetry Out Loud, a national high school recitation competition, encourages youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, while also mastering public speaking skills, building self-confidence and learning about literary heritage. The program has engaged more than 70,000 students since the Michigan Humanities Council and Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs began hosting it in 2005.

The program is open to all high schools, including home-school groups. Registration for the next program will open this fall. If teachers or parents would like to learn more about this program, please visit www.michiganhumanities.org or call 517-372-7770.

Poetry Out Loud School Champions

Anastasia Moutzalias, Allen Park High School ,Allen Park
MacKenzie Mollison, Seaholm High School, Birmingham
Leah Riutta, Calumet High School ,Calumet
Cheyenne Scott, Charlevoix Middle/High School, Charlevoix
Jalen Reaves, Henry Ford High School, Detroit
Pamela Beltran, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
Ariel Brown, Detroit School of Arts, Detroit
Iyana Watts, Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School, Detroit
Alyssia Credit, Old Redford Academy Preparatory High School, Detroit
Olivia Van Duyne, Carman-Ainsworth High School, Flint
Azaariah Mattingly, Powers Catholic High School, Flint
Basil Gray, Leelanau School, Glen Arbor
Cole Peterson, Houghton High School, Houghton
Skylar Vickery, Westwood High School, Ishpeming
Eli Hamlet, Grant River Preparatory High School, Kentwood
Emily Whittaker, Kensington Woods School, Lakeland
Sophie Tomasi, Churchill High School, Livonia
Josh Fleszar, Manistee Catholic Central High School, Manistee
Anikka Jordan, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Marine City
Roxy Sprowl, Marquette Senior High School, Marquette
Andre Buckley, HH Dow High School, Midland
Anna Wiggins, Calvary Baptist Academy, Midland
Alexander Wagner, Detroit Catholic Central High School, Novi
Mary Kate Wright, Owosso High School, Owosso
Jaxon Anderson, Pentwater Public Schools, Pentwater
Grace Garver, Petoskey High School, Petoskey
Alexandra Romo, Portage Central High School, Portage
Reece Brosco, Portage Northern High School, Portage
Jordan Kovach, Riverview Community High School, Riverview
Katelyn Zajac, Stoney Creek High School, Rochester Hills
Julia Shepard, Royal Oak High School, Royal Oak
Nealie Tinlin, Shrine Catholic High School, Royal Oak
India Pruette, Saline High School, Saline
Lyndon DeFoe, University High School Academy, Southfield
Robinson Nkwami, Paul K. Cousino High School, Warren
Cianna Machado, Waterford Mott High School, Waterford
Paige MacGillis, Williamston High School, Williamston



  • Incorporate poetry recitation into curriculum (at teacher’s discretion) – Fall 2017
  • Hold school/classroom competition to determine school champion
  • Ensure school champion will attend regional, state and national championships (if selected)
  • Provide school champion’s information to MHC by deadline – January, 2018
  • Be prepared to list event dates (classroom discussions and school competition) with attendance numbers
  • Before reimbursements can be distributed following the statewide competition, school surveys must be sent to MHC
  • Full contest rules available in teacher’s guide; hard copies provided to participating teachers

MHC Commitment:

  • Provide a free teacher’s guide to each participating teacher
  • Reimbursement of travel and hotel accommodations for the student, parent and teacher to state finals
  • Each student competing at the State finals will receive a certificate signed by the governor
  • State winner will keep the Poetry Out Loud trophy at their home school for one year. He/she will also receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for a $20,000 scholarship at the national competition
  • State winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books
  • Guidance and support from MHC program officer


The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The runner-up in the state competition will receive $100, along with $200 for his or her school library. Scholarships and school stipends totaling $50,000 will be awarded at the national finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud national champion.

Michigan Poetry Out Loud Champions

  • 2017 Champion: MaryKate Wright, Owosso High School, Owosso
  • 2016 Champion: Lyndon DeFoe, University high School Academy, Southfield
  • 2015 Champion: Coral Brantly, Petoskey High School
  • 2014 Champion: Matthew Webb, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
  • 2013 Champion: Richard Wu, Forest Hills Central High School, Grand Rapids
  • 2012 Champion: Randi Laundre, Alba High School, Alba
  • 2011 Champion: Harron Atkins, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
  • 2010 Champion: Lauren Treiber, Forest Hills Central High School, Grand Rapids
  • 2009 Champion: Daniel Bellomy, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
  • 2008 Champion: Charles White, Forest Hills Central High School, Grand Rapids
  • 2007 Champion: Sarah Harris, Holt High School
  • 2006 Champion: Travis Walter, Holt High School

For more information on the national Poetry Out Loud program, visit www.poetryoutloud.org or www.nea.gov.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Poetry Foundation.





119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 3B,
Lansing, MI 48912
p: 517-372-7770
f: 517-372-0027