Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide poetry competition for high school students initiated and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. South Dakota Arts Council, South Dakotans for the Arts and South Dakota Public Broadcasting are statewide sponsors of the event.


Ashley Brage, a senior at Watertown High School, won the 2015 State Poetry Out Loud competition, in Sioux Falls. Brage traveled to Washington, D.C., to represent South Dakota at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals April 27-29. AshleyWithTeacher.jpgAshley Brage, Watertown with Coach Kris O’Brien

Brage won a $200 cash award, and her school will receive $500 to be used for poetry books, in addition to her trip to the national finals.

Eight students from high schools across South Dakota competed for the title. Second place in the competition went to Alex Schumacher, a senior at Washington High School in Sioux Falls. Schumacher was awarded $100 cash, and his school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

Two teachers were also awarded for their efforts in the classroom through Poetry Out Loud. Daniel Snethen, Little Wound High School, was recognized as Poetry Out Loud Teacher of the Year and each received a $200 cash award.  Kris O’Brien, Watertown High School received a special recognition as part of South Dakota’s 10th Anniversary Celebration of Poetry Out Loud. O’Brien has been dedicated to the program since its inception and has had a student compete at the state contest each year.

Poetry Out Loud is a recitation program and competition that urges the teaching of poetry as an oral art form in high schools. Schools that participate in Poetry Out Loud enter students into a preliminary round, from which the state finalists are chosen. Poetry Out Loud was created in partnership by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, with the collaboration of State Arts Agencies. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

In South Dakota, POL is a program administered by the South Dakota Arts Council, an office of the state Department of Tourism, in partnership with the Aberdeen Area Arts Council and South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

Program Materials

Poetry Out Loud curriculum materials include the online poetry anthology, a comprehensive teacher's guidevideo of the National Finals performances, lesson plans, and promotional and media guides. Hard copies of materials are free for teachers participating in the official program.

While teachers, students, and poetry lovers everywhere can use this website and its free materials to organize their own contests, the official contest is limited to the programs run by each state's arts agency. If you are interested in participating in the official program, please contact your state arts agency.

Thank you to KLRN of the Sioux Falls School District for providing the live webcast of the Poetry Out Loud State Contest.   

Contact Rebecca Cruse, Assistant Director South Dakota Arts Council, at (605)773-3301 or sdac@state.sd.us if you would like to participate or learn more about this contest. 

Materials Order Form

Recording Guide (Entry Form)