South Carolina Arts Commission

Poetry Out Loud

Janae Claxton and Ken May

National Recitation Contest

Each year, the SCAC joins national partners to bring Poetry Out Loud to South Carolina high school students.

The National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation present Poetry Out Loud with the help of statewide arts partners like the SCAC in all 50 states, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

2022/2023 registration has ended, but current-year program information is below. Registration for 2023/2024 will open in fall 2023!

South Carolina partners

The program seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry—recitation and performance. Visit the Poetry Out Loud website by clicking here.

In 2018, Janae Claxton of Charleston, posing above with then S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May, was the first South Carolina student to win the National Poetry Out Loud competition! (Photo credit: James Kegley/NEA.)  Read more …

2022/2023 State Finalists

Six young women stand shoulder to shoulder with arms draped around each other on the indoor stage of the Richland Library Main Branch.

Photo by Thomas Maluck. Click image to enlarge.














A new structure for the 2022/2023 competition blended the traditional, in-person approach with the more recent virtual competitions caused by the pandemic. Schools who registered held in-person competitions locally while individual students who registered performed virtually in front of judges who named finalists.

The finalists this year come from Charleston, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and Spartanburg. Pictured left to right above:

  • Meenakshi Balachandran, senior, Calvary Christian School (Myrtle Beach)
  • Ella McCall, sophomore, Ashley Hall (Charleston)
  • Catherine Wooten, junior, Westgate Christian School (Spartanburg)
  • Jessie Leitzel, junior, Charleston County School of the Arts (Charleston)
  • Eve Decker, freshman, Spartanburg Day School (Spartanburg)
  • Emily Allison, junior, Fine Arts Center (Greenville), the 2021 and 2022 state champion

Congratulations to these state finalists!

Poetry Out Loud 2022/2023

Two tracks. One competition.

To best serve as many South Carolina students as possible, Poetry Out Loud offers school registration (for teachers and their classes, in-person competitions) and individual student registration (a live virtual competition) for those whose school is not participating or are homeschooled.

Additional information

Did you know…

The various winners of the Poetry Out Loud competitions held in U.S. states and jurisdictions reach their status by reciting the works of others. But you might not know that there’s plenty of original content coming from them. Enter Poetry Ourselves, a companion competition open to the Poetry Out Loud state and jurisdictional champions that highlights their original poetry. Each champion had the opportunity to submit an original work of poetry in one of two categories—written or spoken

In 2022, Emily Allison represented South Carolina and won the written poetry category!

Poetry Ourselves was launched in 2016 as part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ 50th anniversary as a way to encourage student creativity.

I’m here to help!

For assistance or more information, please contact Poetry Out Loud Coordinator Bonita Peeples (803.734.8692 |