Finalists for 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Championship Announced

Nine High School Students Compete for $20,000 Prize
Photos of the nine finalists with text reading Who will be the 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Champion?

Washington, DC—Nine high school students from across the nation are vying for the title of 2022 Poetry Out Loud™ National Champion and the $20,000 prize as part of an annual poetry recitation competition from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation. The 2022 competition will culminate on Sunday, June 5, 2022, with a one-time-only webcast available on the NEA’s website at Arts.gov/Poetry-Out-Loud beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. CT / 4:00 p.m. PT. Poet, publisher, and New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander will host the virtual event that will include poetry recitations by each of the finalists and the announcement of the National Champion. 

On May 1st, 55 state and jurisdictional Poetry Out Loud champions competed in one of three national semifinals; nine of those students are now advancing to the June 5th finals:

  • Arizona Champion Oscar Manuel Landa Samano (Coconino High School)
  • California Champion Mia Ronn (The Archer School for Girls)
  • Colorado Champion Aidyn Lorin Jai Reid (Fountain Valley School of Colorado)
  • Louisiana Champion Jacob Simmons (Covington High School)
  • Nebraska Champion Alexandra Rose Zaleski (V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School)
  • New York Champion Pamela White (Bethlehem Central High School)
  • North Carolina Champion Gabriella Burwell (Knightdale High School)
  • Pennsylvania Champion Mario Grugan (Tyrone Area High School)
  • Tennessee Champion Kendall Grimes (Battle Ground Academy)

Photos and videos of the nine finalists are available for media use. To request an interview with one of these students, email Liz Auclair at auclaire@arts.gov.

For this competition, each student memorizes and recites classic and contemporary poems selected from more than 1,100 in the Poetry Out Loud anthology. Judges review and score the recitations based on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy.

The 2022 national finals judges are: Francisco Aragón, Candice Iloh, Rosa Joshi, Dante Medema, Joan Naviyuk Kane, and Marcus Wicker. For bios for the judges and more information on the 55 Poetry Out Loud state and jurisdictional champions, download the 2022 Poetry Out Loud program book.

A total of $50,000 in awards and school or organizational stipends will be given at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the National Champion, $10,000 for 2nd place, $5,000 for 3rd place, and $1,000 for 4th–9th places. The representing schools/organizations of each of the top nine finalists receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. There was one honorable mention recipient announced on May 1 in each of three national semifinals competitions—Niveah Glover (Florida), Eakjot Kaur Sekhon (Nevada), and Morgan Sprouse (West Virginia). Those students do not advance to the June 5 finals, but will each receive a $1,000 cash award and a $500 stipend for their school or organization. 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 the Poetry Out Loud national 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.

About Poetry Out Loud
A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional 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 for high school students across the country. The program starts in the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Winners then may advance to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the national finals. Awards and placements are determined solely by the judges’ scores based on the Poetry Out Loud Evaluation Criteria. Poetry Out Loud takes place in all 50 states, American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 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 the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. 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. It 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 was established in 1979 to promote and support multi-state arts programming in a region that includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia. It is one of six regional arts organizations in the United States, and works in close partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and its member state and jurisdictional arts agencies. Mid Atlantic Arts distinguishes itself through its work in international cultural exchange, model programs in performing arts touring, its knowledge and presence in the jazz field, and its support of folk and traditional arts. For more information, visit www.midatlanticarts.org 
 

Contact

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