Maine Poetry Out Loud
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Abigail Case named Maine Poetry Out Loud Champion!

Poets, performers, educators, friends, and family gathered at the Olin Arts Center in Lewiston on March 13 to cheer on 10 finalists in the championship rounds of the Maine Poetry Out Loud State Finals. Following three rounds of poetry recitations, Abigail Case, Grade 11 of Hermon High School, was named the champion. She will advance to the national competition in Washington D.C. this spring. Jaime Bueya-Mbiyavanga of Portland High School was named the runner-up.

After two years of virtual competitions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Poetry Out Loud returned to a live event. At the Maine State Finals, Portland Poet Laureate Maya Williams and former Poetry Out Loud state champion Allan Monga, co-hosted the event. Maine Poet Laureate Julia Bouwsma delivered a comedic and inspirational keynote speech and read one of her original poems. Any nervousness that remained among the participants was squashed by the entertainment of Janoah “The Jester” Bailin who entertained the crowd between the rounds of recitation.

Judges Professor Ian-Khara Ellasante, Jeri Theriault, Janet Mitchko, and Todd McKinley worked carefully to evaluate each performance. The recitations are scored based on the following criteria: voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, accuracy, and overall performance. At the state and national finals, each participant memorizes and recites three poems. One poem must be 25 lines or fewer, and one must be written before the 20th century.


This year’s participants at the Maine State Finalists:

Jaime Bueya-Mbiyavanga - Portland High School

Abigail Case - Hermon High School

Mackenzie Chaput - Gardiner Area High School

Marcus Gallagher - Oak Hill High School

Willow Knowles - Kennebunk High School

Lyra Legawiec - Mt. Ararat High School

Innana Piccininni - Bangor High School

John Punnachalil - Oceanside High School

Charlotte Schatz - Maine Coast Waldorf School

Alice Willette - Waterville Senior High School


At the conclusion of the Maine State Finals, Maine Teacher of the Year Matt Bernstein handed out the awards and announced the winners. Abigail Case will now bring the power of her spoken word to our nation’s capital to compete for a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, as well as a $20,000 scholarship. The 2023 Poetry Out Loud National Finals are planned to be held May 8-10.

Poetry Out Loud is an arts education program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, and state arts agencies. The program offers free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, as well as learn about literary history and contemporary life. Twenty Maine schools and 2,440 students participated in this year’s Poetry Out Loud program.




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 2022-2023 Northern or Southern Regionals.

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


2022-2023 Dates & Deadlines

  • December 2, 2022: Registration Deadline for schools 
  • January 13, 2023: Deadline for School Competitions
  • January 24, 2023: Deadline to register school winners for Regional Finals
  • February 13, 2023: Southern Regionals at St. Lawrence Arts
  • February 15, 2023: Northern Regionals at Farnsworth Art Museum
  • February 17, 2023: Announcement of State Finalists
  • March 2, 2023: State Finals at Bates College
  • May 8-10, 2023: National Finals and Semifinals in Washington, D.C.


Regional, State, and National Competitions

Our Northern and Southern Regional competitions will be in person for the first time since 2019. 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 13th at St. Lawrence Arts in Portland. The Northern Regional competition will be on February 15th at Farnsworth Art Musuem in Rockland. State Finals will be on March 2nd at Olin Arts Center, Bates College in Lewiston.

It has been announced that the Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals and the National Finals will take place in person in Washington, D.C. during May 8-10, 2023.


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.