In The Spotlight

2016 Champion is Ahkei Togun of Virginia!

Ahkei TogunOn May 4, 2016, Ahkei Togun, age 17, a senior at Tallwood High School in Virginia Beach, VA won the title of 2016 Poetry Out Loud National Champion. Togun won the final round with “Bereavement,” by William Lisle Bowles.

The second-place winner was Marta Palombo, 18, a senior at Cambridge High School in Alpharetta, Georgia. The third-place winner was Nicholas Amador, age 15, a sophomore at Punahou High School in Honolulu, HI.

Students and schools received $50,000 in awards and school stipends at the National Finals, including $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists. The fourth- to ninth-place finalists each received $1,000. The schools of the top nine finalists received $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

Now celebrating its eleventh year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The program encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high school students across the country. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals are the culmination of a yearlong poetry education program involving some 317,000 students from more than 2,300 high schools around the country. High school teachers who want to learn how to get involved in next year's program can visit

Read more about the 2016 Poetry Out Loud National Finals at the NEA Art Works blog.

Photos and video of the nine finalists from the May 3 semifinals and May 4 finals are available at this link.

Posted on 05.05.16