Bismarck – On Monday, February 26, Ayden McPartland traveled to the Heritage Center in Bismarck to compete against school champions from across the state in North Dakota’s annual Poetry Out Loud competition. She placed 3rd! Congratulations to Ayden on a successful recitation day!

North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) is pleased to announce Circe Atkinson of Mandan High School is the 2024 State Champion and first place winner of the North Dakota State Poetry Out Loud (POL) contest. McKade Picken of Wahpeton High School received second place honors with third place awarded to Ayden McPartland of Valley City High School.
Provided in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and NDCA, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. 

More than four million students have participated in Poetry Out Loud since 2005, many advancing advancing from classroom competitions to school and state contests and ultimately to the national finals where students compete for the grand prize of $20,000. Non-school organizations, such as after-school clubs, libraries, or nonprofit organizations, may also host Poetry Out Loud competitions. In total, Poetry Out Loud will award more than $100,000 to state- and national-level winners and their schools in 2024.
Emcee Alicia Hegland-Thorpe, Poetry Out Loud Coordinator Matthew Anderson, and NDCA Executive Director Kim Konikow presented the awards to the participants. All contestants received a T-shirt, swag bag, and a certificate of participation. First place winner Circe Atkinson received a trophy, a medallion, and $200. She will advance to the POL national finals in Washington, D.C., held April 30-May 2 with expenses paid by POL for her and an adult chaperone. Mandan High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books and the honor of displaying the POL Traveling Trophy. Second place winner McKade Picken received a trophy, a medallion, and $100, with Wahpeton High School receiving $200.
The 2024 North Dakota state competition judges included: Dr. Cheryl Ann Kary (Haunkuotawin), Executive Director of Sacred Pipe Resource Center; Jamee Larson, Senior Lecturer of Composition and Creative Writing, North Dakota State University; Bill Thomas, recently retired Director of Radio, Prairie Public; Shadd Piehl, North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate and adjunct English Instructor for Bismarck State College; and accuracy judge Robin Bosch, Fiscal Officer for NDCA. Entertainment during the event included DJ music by David Diebel of D&N Cinematics and a Keynote presentation – including poetry readings – by culture bearers Frederick Edwards Jr. and Joe Davis.
For further information on Poetry Out Loud, visit or contact Matthew Anderson at (701) 328-7593 or For additional media assets from the 2024 state championship, contact Rhea Beto at (701) 328-7594 or Schools and other organizations interested in participating in the 2024-2025 Poetry Out Loud program should visit NDCA’s Poetry Out Loud webpage where registration forms will be available in late summer.