Emily Bauer, 2017 Missouri State Champion, Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest

Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest

The annual Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest  encourages the nation’s high school students to experience great poetry through participating in a dynamic nationwide recitation competition. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Missouri has participated in Poetry Out Loud every year since the program was founded in 2006 by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The Poetry Foundation and NEA administer Poetry Out Loud together with the state arts agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The Missouri Arts Council and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education work in partnership to bring Poetry Out Loud to Missouri.

The competition is structured as a pyramid that starts at the classroom level. Classroom winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional competition, then to a state (or territorial) competition, and ultimately to the National Finals.


Schools begin to register for Poetry Out Loud every fall at the beginning of the academic year. Check these resources to learn more about how the program works and the benefits it brings to students and schools. Also, contact Virginia Sanders, Missouri Poetry Out Loud coordinator, at 314-340-6851 or virginia.sanders@ded.mo.gov.

  • Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest
  • National Endowment for the Arts pages about Poetry Out Loud
  • Poetry Foundation
  • Poetry Is Alive and Well in Missouri article – “You can pick poems you can relate to and put your own spin on it,” says 2015 Missouri State Champion Maya Bryant in this interview in StreetScape Magazine May/June 2015 (pages 70-71) with Maya and other 2015 Missouri participants.
  • Get Involved in Poetry Out Loud! video – Hear from students and teachers about why they love the program in this five-minute video. Missouri is prominently featured. There are comments from Thomas Fields, 2014 Missouri State Champion and one of only nine finalists in the 2014 nationals. There are also comments from Charles Hussung, teacher at St. Louis University High School at which Thomas was a senior, and from Virginia Sanders of the Missouri Arts Council, our Missouri Poetry Out Loud coordinator.
  • Letter (PDF) from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to school superintendents describing the 2016 program and how Poetry Out Loud benefits schools
  • Article (PDF) by the National Association of State Arts Agencies lauding the program’s life-changing “power of poetry and partnership”

Missouri State Champion Was Finalist at 2017 Nationals

Parkway West High School senior Emily Bauer, Missouri’s 2017 Poetry Out Loud State Champion, was one of only nine finalists who reached the last rounds of the 2017 National Finals in Washington, D.C. on April 25-26.

The National Finals involved the 53 students who won their state or territory’s championship. In Poetry Out Loud’s tiered structure of competitions beginning in high school classrooms, the 2016/17 program engaged more than 310,00 students supported by 8,000 teachers in 2,300 schools.

Ms. Bauer is the third Missouri state champion to be a finalist. In 2006, Poetry Out Loud’s first year, Aislinn Lowry of Jefferson City High School reached the last rounds. In 2014, Thomas Fields of St. Louis University High School was one of the final nine.

Ms. Bauer took to Washington the same three poems with which she earned the Missouri championship: It was not Death, for I stood up by Emily Dickinson, Entirely by Louis MacNeice, and Zacuanpapalotis by Brenda Cárdenas.

These are Missouri’s 2017 regional champions who competed in Jefferson City on March 9 to determine the state’s champion:

Central | Cristina Tobias, senior, Hickman High School (Columbia)
Kansas City | Sophie Schooley, sophomore, Summit Christian Academy (Lee’s Summit)
Northeast | Grace Williams, sophomore, Troy Buchanan High School (Troy)
Northwest | Alex Hall, senior, St. Joseph Home School Group
Southeast | Kate Zibluk, junior, Notre Dame Regional High School (Cape Girardeau)

Southwest | Joseph Foster, senior, Stockton High School
St. Charles County | Lauren Schuette, senior, Northwest High School (Cedar Hill)
St. Louis City | Elysse Price, senior, Crossroads College Preparatory School
St. Louis County | Emily Bauer, senior, Parkway West High School (Ballwin)

Watch the videos of the 2017 Missouri State Finals

Round 1 – Emily Bauer performs at 23:02, It was not Death, for I stood up by Emily Dickinson
Round 2 – Emily Bauer, 24:17, Entirely by Louis MacNeice
Round 3 – Emily Bauer, 23:59, Zacuanpapalotis by Brenda Cárdenas

12 years of Poetry Out Loud in Missouri

From the first Poetry Out Loud in 2006, these are Missouri’s State Champions.

2017 | Emily Bauer, Parkway West High School, St. Louis County
| Sarah Koo, Parkway North High School, St. Louis County
2015 | Maya Bryant, Holt High School, Wentzville
2014 | Thomas Fields, St. Louis University High School, St. Louis
2013 | Essence Imani Lee, Crossroads College Preparatory School, St. Louis
2012 | Cameron Locke, Stockton High School, Stockton

2011 | Terry Watkins, Jr., Crossroads College Preparatory, St. Louis
2010 | Nicole Andrews, Springfield R-12 Central High School, Springfield
2009 | Pete Winfrey, St. Louis University High School, St. Louis
2008 | Aryiel Everett, Park Hills High School, Park Hills
2007 | Michael Brown, Blue Springs High School, Blue Springs
2006 | Aislinn Lowry, Jefferson City High School, Jefferson City