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Cheyenne’s Hailey Walton takes 3rd in Wyoming’s 2024 Poetry Out Loud State Champion

Elora Nation, 2024 Wyoming Poetry Out Loud State Champion with Governor Mark Gordon at Laramie County Community College on Feb. 26, 2024. (Wyoming Arts Council)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The annual Poetry Out Loud State Finals Competition was hosted by the Wyoming Arts Council on Monday, Feb. 26 at the Surbrugg/Prentice Auditorium located at Laramie County Community College.

Elora Nation secured the title of Wyoming’s 2024 State Champion for the second consecutive year. Nation, a senior enrolled in the Penn Foster High School program in Casper, will represent Wyoming at the National Finals held in Washington, D.C., scheduled for May.

Sunny Butterfield of Buffalo High School claimed second place, while third place was awarded to Hailey Walton of Cheyenne East High School.

Students competed for a $200 prize, a $500 stipend for their school to purchase poetry books and the opportunity to advance to the national competition. Judging criteria encompassed physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding and overall performance.

This year’s panel of judges featured Wyoming poets Izac Garcia, Annelise Wright and Brandon McQuade, along with Wyoming Poet Laureate Barbara Smith and Lori Pusateri-Lane, Fine & Performing Arts Consultant for the Wyoming Department of Education.

Poetry Out Loud encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Developed by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is a free contest for high-school students, grades 9–12, in both public and private schools and local community organizations. The Wyoming Arts Council supports and administers the program throughout the Cowboy State.

In 2023, the Poetry Out Loud state competition introduced an addition known as Poetry Ourselves, providing a platform for students to showcase their original literary creations.

2024 Wyoming Poetry Out Loud State Competitors. Left to right: Chase Brown (Shoshoni), Elora Nation (Casper), Hailey Walton (Cheyenne), Justice Nelson (Worland), Hallie Cozzens (Laramie), Sunny Butterfield (Buffalo) and William Greathouse (Moorcroft). Photo Credit: Danica Mrozinsky. (Wyoming Arts Council)

This year’s event took place on Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Hawthorn Tree Tea House in Cheyenne. The winners of the 2024 Poetry Ourselves – Original Written Word category were announced as follows: Briar Markovsky claimed first place with “Hunger,” followed by Lucia Hucinova with “The Song” in second and Hallie Cozzens with “The Line to Get to the Beach” securing third.

Notable mentions were awarded to Joanna James for “Happy Holidays,” Gloria Rynders for “Change Your Attitude” and Roby Hines for “Choose.” Additionally, the winners of the 2024 Poetry Ourselves – Spoken Word category were recognized, with Justice Nelson clinching first place, Elora Nation securing second place, Dovelynn Martinson placing third and William Greathouse taking fourth.

This year, seven schools and community organizations sent representatives from across Wyoming to compete in the 2024 Wyoming State Poetry Out Loud Competition. Students first competed and won at the classroom and school levels in their local communities before participating in the state finals competition.


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