March 1, 2024

Ariana Kimball Named 2024 Minnesota Poetry Out Loud Champion

South Central Service Cooperative and the Minnesota State Arts Board announce that Ariana Kimball, a senior at Washburn HighSchool in St. Paul, is the 2024 Poetry Out Loud champion for Minnesota. First runner-up was Sofia Skuza Rivera, a ninth-grader at St. Paul Academy and SummitSchool, and third place went to Ryan Winter, a senior at Marshall School in Duluth. The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.Ten high school students from participated in the Poetry Out Loud state finals, which were held at Minnesota State University, Mankato on March 1. SCSC is the statewide host for Poetry Out Loud.

Additional participants at the state tournament included Ibah Abdi, a junior at Hertiage STEM Academy, St.Paul; Abigail Alcantar, a junior at Morris Area High School; Julia Gradilone, a senior at Century High School, Rochester; Colie Keller, a tenth grader at Washburn High School, St. Paul; St. Paul; Thalia Köhler, a senior at Century High School, Rochester; Liban Omar, a junior at Heritage STEM Academy, St.Paul; Wesley Richards, a ninth grader at Morris Area High School; Ibtisam Sid, a junior at Ubah Academy, Hopkins; and Sara Téllez, a junior at Johnson Senior High School, St. Paul.

Minnesota Poetry Out Loud starts at the local level in the classroom or with an area organization. Winners advance to one of five regional events, the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals. At the Minnesota finals, contestants recited works they memorized from an anthology of more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation provide free, standards-based curriculum materials—all available online—which teachers may use in their classrooms.These include the poetry anthology, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download these resources at Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.2 million students, 85,000 educators from 18,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa,Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have participated in PoetryOut Loud. 

Minnesota State Poet Laureate Gwen Westerman welcomed the state participants and audience to the state finals and recited a poem that was a compilation of couplets from her students entitled, “We Sing America.” Guest judges included Elyse Anderson, communications director for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Minnesota State University, Mankato; Amanda Bailey, a southern Minnesota poet and president of the League of MN Poets; Susan Stevens Chambers, a southern Minnesota poet; Rob Hardy, poet and Northfield Poet Laureate; Gwen Westerman, Minnesota Poet Laureate; Greg Wilkins, Minnesota State University, Mankato professor; and Kevin Zepper, English and humanities professor and poet. Sue Gens, Minnesota State Arts Board executive director, assisted with awards.

Kimball will receive $200, and her school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. As the first runner-up, Rivera will receive $100, with $200 for her school. Additional awards were provided by Drummers Garden Center & Floral, Minnesota State University Mankato and South Central Service Cooperative.

Kimball will compete with 54 other state/jurisdictional champions in the Poetry Out Loud national semifinals through a competition streamed at on May 1, 2024. The top nine students will advance to the national finals, that will stream on May 2, at In total, $50,000 in awards and school/organization stipends, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, will be presented. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded.

This activity is made possible by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.