• Poetry Out Loud

Kate Brown, 2019 Missouri State Champion, Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest

Poetry Out Loud

On March 12, 2020, Missouri’s regional champions of Poetry Out Loud 2020 will gather in Jefferson City to determine who will go on to represent our state at the national finals in Washington, D.C. on April 27-29.

Thousands of Missouri high school students began competing last fall in a pyramid structure of contests starting at the classroom level, then school-wide, then regional. The regional contests are taking place during February.

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. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. 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 the 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 state champions will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the finals for themselves and an adult chaperone. Their high schools receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

Missouri’s champions of Poetry Out Loud 2020

Central | competition February 20
Kansas City | competition February 21
Northwest | Alanna Bryson, junior, age 17, Central High School (St. Joseph)
St. Charles County | Amelia Truong, junior, age 17, Holt High School (Wentzville)
St. Louis City | Andrew Normington, senior, age 17, St. Louis University High School
St. Louis County | Rachel Solverud, senior, age 17, Nerinx Hall (Webster Groves)
Southeast | competition February 23
Southwest | competition February 19

14 years of Poetry Out Loud in Missouri

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

2019 | Kate Brown, Stockton High School, Stockton
2018 | Shakira Cross, Hickman High School, Columbia
2017 | Emily Bauer, Parkway West High School, St. Louis County
2016 | 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 Hill South High School, Riverside
2007 | Michael Brown, Blue Springs High School, Blue Springs
2006 | Aislinn Lowry, Jefferson City High School, Jefferson City


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 Arts Council special initiatives coordinator, at 314-340-6851 or virginia.sanders@ltgov.mo.gov.

  • Poetry Out Loud national program
  • National Endowment for the Arts pages about Poetry Out Loud
  • Poetry Foundation
  • 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”