Riley Saenim is 2024’s Wisconsin Poetry Out Loud Champion

April 10, 2024                            

Contact: Dr. Penny Parsons​

Madison - On March 9th, Riley Saenim won the statewide Wisconsin Poetry Out Loud (POL) Competition held at the MYArts stage in Madison, WI. Saenim, a sophomore at Racine's The Prairie School, advanced to the Finals from the WI Southeast Regional competition.

Saenim's coach, Matt Peterson, said the private school placed special emphasis on poetry in English classes.  In the winning recitations, Riley presented “Vixen" by WS Merwin, “Thoughtless Cruelty" by Charles Lamb, and “Among Women" by Marie Ponsot.

The Wisconsin Arts Board extends its congratulations to them and to State Runner-up Nyimah Zavaleta, also a sophomore at The Prairie School, who was coached by Mr. Peterson.

More than 800 Wisconsin high school students competed in live contests throughout our state this year in a process coordinated by State POL Coordinator Dr. Penny Parsons and supported by the Wisconsin Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts.  The 20 schools that encouraged these students stretched from Washington Island to Madison and from Racine to Eau Claire

As Wisconsin's Champion, Saenim will advance to participate in the National POL Finals in Washington, D. C., April 30-May 2, 2024.  ​

A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the nation's state arts agencies (of which the Wisconsin Arts Board is one), Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

The National Contest awards over $50,000 in scholarship funds, including a $20,000 award to the national champion. Each champion at the state level receives $200 and the state champion's school library receives $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for their school library for poetry resources.

2024 WI Poetry Out Loud Champion and Runner Up

Riley Saenim (Champion, left: '26 The Prairie School) and Nyimah Zavaleta (Runner-up, right: '26 The Prairie School)

Picture courtesy of Matt Peterson. ​

The Wisconsin Arts Board is the state agency which nurtures creativity, cultivates expression, promotes the arts, supports the arts in education, stimulates community and economic development and serves as a resource for people of every culture and heritage. Since 1973, the Arts Board has supported artists and art organizations with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information on the Wisconsin Arts Board, please visit and to join the celebration of our 50th Anniversary, visit