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Poetry Out Loud State Finals Set for March 10 Featuring Nine Ohio High School Students

On March 10, 2023, nine Ohio high school students will compete in Columbus for the title of Ohio Poetry Out Loud (POL) state champion.  

Celebrating 18 years in 2023, POL has connected high school students to a diverse array of poetry and poets from around the world and across centuries. Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, POL is administered in partnership with the state arts agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. POL encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation while helping students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary heritage and contemporary life. 

After moving through six regional semifinal rounds held by the Ohio Arts Council’s partners, the Ohio high school students who will compete at the 2023 POL State Finals competition are: 

  • Emily McNeal, senior, Stage Left Players 
  • Anabanel Anne, freshman, Columbus School for Girls 
  • Tara Gontkovic, junior, Westerville Central High School 
  • Tatum L’Heureux, junior, Nelsonville High School  
  • Jazlyn Bew, sophomore, Federal Hocking High School  
  • Hiba Loukssi, senior, Xenia High School 
  • Trista Boeke, senior, Piqua High School 
  • Amanda Braig, junior, McNicholas High School 
  • Rhianna Sell, sophomore, Toledo Early College High School 

WOSU Public Media again will host the State Finals in the Ross Community Studio, where students will recite their poems in front of a live audience of family, friends, teachers, and community members. The event—which is free and open to the public—begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 10.  

The three guest judges adjudicating this year’s State Finals are poets Terry Hermsen, Rose Smith, and Cynthia Amoah—who participated in POL when she was a student at Reynoldsburg High School.

Students participating in the State Finals will compete in three rounds, with each student reciting one poem per round. Contest results will be determined by the cumulative scores from all three rounds, with the State Champion title awarded to the student with the highest score overall. 

The winner of Ohio’s POL State Finals will be awarded a cash prize of $200, and the winner’s school library will also receive $500 to support future learning. Additionally, the winner will represent the Buckeye State at the POL National Finals, which will be held in Washington, D.C., May 8-10, 2023. 

The nation’s largest youth poetry recitation competition, Poetry Out Loud is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Ohio Arts Council. The Poetry Out Loud program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry, master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and study their literary heritage. 
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA 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 NEA 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 to learn more about NEA. 
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Andrew Paa, Communications Strategist

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