High School Students Nationwide Compete in 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals

Live Stream of the Semifinals on Sunday, May 1, at Arts.gov

Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL—For months, students from all across the country have been memorizing and reciting the words of poets such as Tracy K. Smith, Ilya Kaminsky, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, among others, all in the hopes of being named the 2022 Poetry Out Loud™ National Champion, which includes a grand prize of $20,000. The semifinals will be broadcast Sunday, May 1, 2022, at Arts.gov/Poetry-Out-Loud.

After participating in local and state competitions, one student from each of the 50 states, American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—55 total—are advancing to the Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals. From those semifinals, nine students will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, broadcast on Sunday, June 5, 2022, at Arts.gov/Poetry-Out-Loud. In total, $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed as part of the national finals.

Visit poetryoutloud.org for the list of the 2022 Poetry Out Loud state and jurisdictional champions and their high schools.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies. This national program encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students, helping them to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. 

“Congratulations to all of the students who participated in Poetry Out Loud over the past year! Through poetry, these students are developing the insights, confidence, and skills to help shape our world by seeing things from different perspectives, exploring issues of our time, and giving voice to ideas that often seem hard to articulate,” said Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

National Semifinals—Sunday, May 1, 2022
On Sunday, May 1, 2022, the Poetry Out Loud national semifinals will be broadcast through a one-time-only webcast at Arts.gov/Poetry-Out-Loud. Each of the 55 champions are recording their poem recitations in advance, which are reviewed and scored by judges with expertise in poetry, performance, and the literary arts. The recitations from all 55 students will be broadcast on May 1 during three regional semifinals, and will include the announcement of the top nine students (three from each region) who will advance in the competition. 

  • 12:00pm ET / 11:00am CT / 9:00am PT—Champions from Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • 3:00pm ET / 2:00pm CT / 12:00pm PT—Champions from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
  • 6:00pm ET / 5:00pm CT / 3:00pm PT—Champions from Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

National Finals—Sunday, June 5, 2022
On Sunday, June 5 at 7:00 pm ET / 6:00pm CT / 4:00pm PT, poet, educator, publisher, and New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander will host the 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Finals, which will be available through a one-time-only webcast at Arts.gov/Poetry-Out-Loud. The evening will feature recitations and interviews with the top nine finalists, culminating with the live announcement of the 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Champion. 

“As students from across the nation compete in Poetry Out Loud, I am awed and inspired by their passion and their connection to the poems recited,” said Michelle T. Boone, president of the Poetry Foundation. “They are proof that poetry is a living art form, embodied by each of these young people. Congratulations to all of the participants, and thank you for sharing your spark with all of us.”

A total of $50,000 in awards and school or organizational stipends will be awarded at the national finals, including $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded for Poetry Out Loud. The Poetry Out Loud national finals are administered by Mid Atlantic Arts. Closed captioning in English and Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided for both the Poetry Out Loud national semifinals and finals.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using #POL22 and #IAmPoetryOutLoud and follow the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation at @PoetryOutLoud, @NEAArts, and @PoetryFound.

The Poetry Out Loud state champions also had the opportunity to highlight their own original poetry by competing in the Poetry Ourselves competition. State champions were able to submit an original work of poetry in one of two categories: either a written poem or a video of a spoken poem. The winner and runner-up in each category will be selected by poet Chen Chen and announced in late April.

About Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud starts at the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Students memorize and recite poems they select from an anthology of more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems. Winners then may advance to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the national finals. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated in Poetry Out Loud. For more information about Poetry Out Loud and how to participate in the 2022–2023 program, visit poetryoutloud.org.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States. Visit Arts.gov to learn more. 

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation  is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, visit PoetryFoundation.org

About Mid Atlantic Arts

Mid Atlantic Arts supports artists, presenters, and organizations through unique programming, grant support, partnerships, and information sharing. Created in 1979, Mid Atlantic Arts is aligned with the region’s state arts councils and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mid Atlantic Arts combines state and federal funding with private support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to nurture diverse artistic expression while connecting people to meaningful arts experiences within our region and beyond. To learn more about Mid Atlantic Arts visit www.midatlanticarts.org.


Liz Auclair (NEA), auclaire@arts.gov, 202-682-5744
Elizabeth O’Connell-Thompson (Poetry Foundation), eoconnellthompson@poetryfoundation.org, 312-799-8065