David Lewis, Malisha Taylor, Tommy Nichol, Sanika Janorkar
David Lewis, Malisha Taylor, Tommy Nichol, Sanika Janorkar

2024 Poetry Out Loud Competition

The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) is pleased to announce that Malisha Taylor, a Sophomore at Pascagoula High School, is the 2024 Mississippi Poetry Out Loud® (POL) champion. Tommy Nichol, a Junior at Oxford High School, is the first runner-up, and Sanika Janorkar, a Freshman at Rosa Scott High School, is the second runner-up.

Malisha Taylor will receive $200, and Pascagoula High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. Tommy Nichol will receive $100 as the first runner-up, with $200 for Oxford High School.

Taylor recited “Mansplaining” by Jennifer Militello in the first round, “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” by Emily Dickinson in the second round, and her winning recitation was “Burning in the Rain” by Richard Blanco.

Eight high school students from high schools/organizations across the state participated in the Poetry Out Loud state finals, which took place at Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson, MS, on March 7, 2024. 

Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) recorded the competition, and it will air on MPB Television at 7:30 p.m. (CST) on Friday, April 26, 2024, and at 4:30 p.m. (CST) on Sunday, April 28, 2024.

David Lewis Malisha Taylor
David Lewis and Malisha Taylor
Malisha Taylor
Malisha Taylor

About The Program

Poetry Out Loud is a free program created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation for students in grades 9 – 12. Since 2005, it has helped students in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and improve their reading comprehension scores while learning about their literary heritage.

Through the Poetry Out Loud curriculum, teachers guide students to a deeper, richer understanding of the power of language and literature by helping them develop a personal relationship with great poems. An added benefit is that Poetry Out Loud offers all students the opportunity to compete for awards, prizes, and recognition.

Who Can Participate?

Any school or homeschool group in Mississippi that teaches students in grades 9 – 12 can register to participate in Poetry Out Loud. Public, private, parochial, alternative, independent, and Christian schools — as well as homeschool groups or organizations and school-sponsored afterschool programs — are encouraged to participate. Individual students, individual homeschools, and community groups or programs (clubs, Centers, etc.) cannot register to participate but are welcome to use Poetry Out Loud as an activity.

Past Winners

2024 | Malisha Taylor | Pascagoula High School 
2023 | Edward Wilson | Jackson Prep *Second Place, National
2022 | Noble Wilkinson | Jackson Prep
2021 | Morgan Love* | Mississippi School of the Arts  *Honorable Mention, National
2020  |  Morgan Love  |  Mississippi School of the Arts
2019  |  Taylor Mills  |  Northwest Rankin High School
2018  |  Anna Claire Franklin  |  Oxford High School
2017 | Lawson Marchetti* | Jackson Prep   *Honorable Mention, National
2016  |  Lawson Marchetti  |  Jackson Preparatory School
2015  |  Joy Carino  |  Mississippi School for Mathematics & Science
2014  |  Joy Carino  |  Starkville High School
2013  |  Akane Little  |  Starkville High School
2012  |  Kristen Dupard*  |  Ridgeland High School  *National Champion
2011  |  Kristen Dupard  |  Ridgeland High School
2010  |  John Eze Uzondinma  |  Rosa Scott School
2009  |  Shaniqua Wesley  |  Water Valley High School
2008  |  Grant Cochran  |  Washington School
2007  |  Melissa Cline  |  Ridgeland High School
2006  |  Ryan Breeland  |  Brookhaven High School

Contest Structure And Awards

Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest begins at the classroom level. Winners advance to school-wide contest, Regional Contests, State Finals and, ultimately, to the National Contest held in Washington, D.C. The State Champion receives $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington to compete in the National Contest. The Champion’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The runner-up receives $100, with $200 going to his or her school library. At the National Contest, contestants can win $1000, $5000, $10,000 or the grand prize of $20,000.

Program Materials And Schedule

Schools that register to participate in Poetry Out Loud will receive free curriculum materials, including print and online poetry anthologies, a teachers guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance, an audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers, a video DVD of “best practices” examples of student recitations, promotional and media guides, a comprehensive website, and support from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the POL State Coordinator. Schools that choose not to register may still access the Poetry Out Loud website and use the materials available there — but they will not be invited to participate in the Regional, State, and National Recitation Contests.

Questions? See the Frequently Asked Questions for Poetry Out Loud.

For more information, contact Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, at poetryoutloud@arts.ms.gov.