Maine Poetry Out Loud
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Maine's Finest Poetry Reciters Shine at 2024 Poetry Out Loud State Finals

BANGOR, MAINE - Ten talented high school students from across Maine gathered at the Bangor Arts Exchange on March 11 to showcase their exceptional poetic prowess at the 2024 Maine Poetry Out Loud Championships. The evening was a celebration of words, artistry, and the boundless creativity of Maine's youth.

The Maine Poetry Out Loud recitation competition begins at the school level, where students compete in classwide and schoolwide competitions. This year, a total of 35 schools registered to participate in the Maine POL program. Individual student winners, representing their respective schools, progress to the regional finals. From each of the southern and northern regional finals, ten state finalists are selected.

For the state and national finals, participating students are required to have three poems prepared. One of these poems must consist of 25 lines or fewer, while another must have been written before the 20th century.

The state final recitations were nothing short of extraordinary, leaving the audience captivated by the talent, poise, and professionalism displayed by each participant. After deliberation, the judges faced the daunting task of selecting a state champion. In the end, Lyra Legawiec of Mt. Ararat High School emerged victorious, earning the honor of representing Maine at the national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington D.C.

"We were truly impressed by the caliber of talent showcased at this year's event," said Brita Wanger, Maine’s Poetry Out Loud program coordinator. "Each participant brought a unique perspective and voice to their performances. We congratulate Lyra and all of the finalists on their outstanding achievement."

The list of finalists includes:

  • Alice Willette, Waterville Senior High School
  • Angie Bekoka, South Portland High School
  • Willow Knowles (Runner-Up), Kennebunk High School
  • Lilah Chibuye, Brewer High School
  • Angelo Giordano, Portland High School
  • Elina White-Charette, Foxcroft Academy
  • Haley McFadyen, Carrabec High School
  • Charlotte Schatz, Maine Coast Waldorf School
  • Lyra Legawiec (Champion), Mt. Ararat High School
  • Hanna Ratcliffe, Erskine Academy

The event was further enriched by an inspiring keynote speech from musical artist and visionary, Genius Black, who encouraged students to embrace their unique voices and creativity. Genius also treated attendees to a "Beat Dissection," electrifying the atmosphere and highlighting the transformative power of art.

Maine Poet Laureate Julia Bouwsma served as a gracious emcee, guiding the audience through an evening of poetry and reflection. Her presence added to the event's significance, providing a shining example of the impact of poetry on our lives.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the participants, judges, teachers, and volunteers whose contributions made this event truly memorable. The success of the 2024 Maine Poetry Out Loud Championships would not have been possible without the generous support of organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation & Poetry Magazine. Their commitment to fostering creativity and artistic expression is truly commendable.

As Lyra Legawiec prepares to represent Maine on the national stage, we invite the community to rally behind her in support. The national Poetry Out Loud competition offers an opportunity for recognition, awards, school stipends, and a chance to compete for a $20,000 scholarship.

 The Poetry Out Loud National Finals set to be held in Washington, DC, from April 30 to May 2, 2024. The Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals will occur on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, with the following schedule:

  • 9:00 a.m. ET: 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.
  • 1:00 p.m. ET: Champions from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
  • 5:00 p.m. ET: 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.

The Semifinals featuring Lyra will be streaming live on the Maine Arts Commission's Facebook page. 

Alice Willette

Waterville Senior High School

Charlotte Schatz

Maine Coast Waldorf School

Lyra Legawiec (State Champion)

Mt. Ararat High School

Angie Bekoka

South Portland High School

Willow Knowles (Runner-Up)

Kennebunk High School 

Lilah Chibuye

Brewer High School

Angelo Giordano

Portland High School

Elina White-Charette

Foxcroft Academy

Haley McFadyen

Carrabec High School

Lyra Legawiec

Mt. Ararat High School

Lyra Legawiec

Mt. Ararat High School

Lyra Legawiec

Mt. Ararat High School

Lyra Legawiec

Mt. Ararat High School

Hannah Ratcliffe

Erskine Academy

Genius Black

Beat Dissection

Genius Black

Beat Dissection

Genius Black

Beat Dissection

Lilah Chibuye, Third Round

Brewer High School

Charlotte Schatz, Third Round

Maine Coast Waldorf School

Lyra Legawiec, Third Round

Mt. Ararat High School




Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest that encourages 9th-12th grade students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

The program is completely free for participating schools, libraries, and home schools. When you register, you’ll receive curricular materials and dedicated support to create a program that fits your students. Poetry Out Loud can be adapted for use in-person or online, and the scope and timing of your contest is decided by your school.


Bring POL to Your Students

Each school year, this program invites thousands of students, teachers, and librarians to deeply engage with poetry and performance. Students read and interpret a broad range of poems, from classical to contemporary, and then they choose one to memorize and perform in a dynamic contest.

The winner of each institution-level contest is invited to the state final, and our Maine champion goes on to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Final for prizes totaling $50,000 in cash awards and school stipends. It’s a pretty big deal!

Maine schools and libraries are registered by a staff member who serves as the POL lead, acting as the primary contact and coordinating organization-wide activity. Other organizations, such as home school cooperatives and non-profits, are also welcome to host Poetry Out Loud contests. 

Register for the 2023-2024 Northern or Southern Regionals.

Questions? Contact the Poetry Out Loud Maine Coordinators, Danielle Moriarty and Brita Wanger


2024 Dates & Deadlines

  • February 7, 2024: Southern Regionals at The Public Theatre, Lewiston 
  • February 12, 2024: Northern Regionals at Bangor Arts Exchange
  • March 11, 2024: State Finals at Bangor Arts Exchange, 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

Regional, State, and National Competitions

Ten State Finalists will be named in the Regional Competitions (five from each Regional Competition) to proceed on to our Maine State Finals.  The Southern Regional competition will be on February 7 at the Public Theatre in Lewiston. The Northern Regional competition will be on February 12 at Bangor Arts Exchange in Bangor. State Finals will be on March 11 at the Bangor Arts Exchange. It has been announced that the Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals and the National Finals will take place in person in Washington, D.C. April 30 - May 2, 2024. 

About Poetry Out Loud

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 school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation.