In the Spotlight

POL at the National Book Festival

On Saturday, September 21st, the NEA will be hosting the Poetry and Prose Pavilion at the National Book Festival.  Three of our 2013 National Finalists will be reciting poetry and talking about Poetry Out Loud: 2nd Place Winner Blessed Sheriff (Maryland), Top 9 Finalist Russell Heitmann (Nebraska), and Top 9 Finalist Maria Zuniga (Texas).

The festival is free and open to the public. Join us on the 21st to support our POL students and enjoy a weekend in our nation's capital. For more information on the festival, visit or this article on the Festival in the Washington Post

Their performance begins Saturday, September 21, at 10:00am in the Poetry and Prose Pavilion.

Langston Ward is the 2013 POL National Champion!

From a competitive field of some 375,000 students nationwide, Langston Ward, a senior at Mead High School in Spokane, Washington, won the title of 2013 Poetry Out Loud National Champion at the National Finals held in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. With this achievement, Ward received a $20,000 award and his high school, Mead High School, received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. 

A two-time Washington State Champion, Ward was also one of nine finalists competing for the national title last year. Ward’s final recitation yesterday evening was “The Bad Old Days,” a poem by Kenneth Rexroth. Ward also recited Walt Whitman’s “A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown” and Li-Young Lee’s “The Gift” at the Tuesday evening finals. When asked about his future relationship with poetry, Ward said, “I’ll keep these poems with me forever, that much I know.”

The second-place winner in the 2013 Poetry Out Loud national competition was Blessed Sheriff of Rockville, Maryland, who received a $10,000 award. Denise L. Burns of Lawton, Oklahoma, received the third-place prize and a $5,000 award.

Read more about the 2013 Poetry Out Loud National Finals here