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Marshalltown High School repeats as Poetry Out Loud state champions

Mar 15, 2022

For the second year in a row, a Marshalltown High School student has won the Poetry Out Loud state finals, the Iowa Arts Council announced today.

Landon Stanley of Marshalltown took first place in this year’s contest, earning a chance to compete for a national championship and a share of $50,000 in scholarships and school prize money. Elijah Thiessen of Marshalltown took first place last year.

Stanley won this year's contest with recitations of “Broken Promises” by David Kirby, “A Graveyard” by Marianne Moore, and “La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad” by John Keats. Ella Hertz of Cedar Falls High School took second place and Lydia Newsome of Waterloo West High School finished third.

With his victory, Stanley received a $200 cash prize and $500 for Marshalltown High School to purchase poetry books, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation. In May, he will compete virtually against students from all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. and several U.S. territories in the national semifinals that will stream on Sunday, May 1, at

This year’s virtual state competition capped off a season during which nearly 500 Iowa students memorized and recited poems for school and semi-final state competitions. The top 18 scoring students advanced to the recent state contest.


Now in its 17th year, Poetry Out Loud is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and is overseen in Iowa by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

The National Endowment for the Arts provides free, standards-based curriculum materials for participating state arts agencies and schools, including an online poetry anthology and a program guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance.

The competition encourages high school students to study great works of poetry, master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Competitors are judged on accuracy, physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, evidence of understanding and overall performance.

Classroom studies culminate with a contest in which each student selects and recites poems from the Poetry Out Loud anthology. Classroom winners advance to school-wide competitions and school champions advance to regional and state competitions. State champions advance to the National Finals where scholarships and school stipends are awarded as prizes.

Here are Iowa’s Poetry Out Loud state champions:

2022 – Landon Stanley of Marshalltown High School
2021 – Elijah Thiessen of Marshalltown High School
2020 – Amya Thornton of Cedar Falls Holmes Junior High School
2019 – Foster Johnson of Sioux City Bishop Heelan High School
2018 – Sarah Beumler of Sioux City Bishop Heelan High School
2017 – Grace Kiple of Sioux City LAMB School of Theatre and Music
2016 – Grace Beumler of Sioux City Bishop Heelan High School
2015 – Josie Kasik of Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School
2014 – Josie Everett of Sioux City LAMB Arts Regional Theatre
2013 – Dakota Meyer of the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs
2012 – Gwen Morrison of Marshalltown High School
2011 – Grace Rants of Sioux City East High School
2010 – John-Emmett Mahon of Sioux City PeaceMakers Academy
2009 – Mia Pierson of Roland-Story High School
2008 – Emily Mortvedt of Roland-Story High School
2007 – Spencer Gilbert of West Des Moines Valley High School
2006 – Ashley Baccam of Des Moines East High School

More information is available at and

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the interim Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.