An annual element of our Arts in Education programming is Poetry Out Loud. The Perry County Council of the Arts has administered a regional level competition of Poetry Out Loud since 2008. Open to all high school students in Perry, Juniata, Mifflin, Montour, Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties, Poetry Out Loud is a national memorization and recitation contest administered nationally by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the decision by the National Endowment for the Arts to make the National Semi-Finals and Finals virtual, PCCA’s 2022 Regional Poetry Out Loud Contest will be virtual.


Snow date: February 2

Juniata County Library, 498 Jefferson Street, Mifflintown


William G. Davies, Jr.

William enjoys the art of poetry. And in that vein, he has been fortunate to have won the Perry County Poet Laureate designation on three occasions. He was very lucky to have had a volume of poetry published by Prolific Press in 2015. William has found, in the Perry County Times, a conduit that oftentimes shares his perspective with fervor. He resides with his wife, Theresa, with whom he shares forty-seven years of marriage, in Elliottsburg, Pa. He also has had the supreme happenstance of having been published in numerous literary journals.

Leslie Heimbaugh

Leslie recently earned her B.A. in Corporate Communications from Central Penn College. Before that, she had careers in Art Direction, Organizing, and Catering. For the past 12 years, Leslie has worked for Perry County Literacy Council (PCLC) in several roles, including Office Manager, Administrative Assistant, and Development Officer, and still uses her catering skills to provide food for PCLC’s many special events.

Abigail Leffler

Abigail earned her B.A. in Theatre Arts with a Performance Emphasis from Bloomsburg University. After college she did an extensive acting internship and was a frequent guest artist with Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. In North Carolina, she served as the Drama Instructor at the Center of Performing Arts for 8 years, a Director for New Bern Civic Theatre, and as an actor and director for multiple theatre companies. Abby is currently the Education Director at Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.

Missy Smith 

Missy has worked in the Communications and Journalism fields for 15 years, starting as a newspaper reporter and feature writer, and working in various positions as an editor, photographer, forum moderator, freelance journalist, and communications professional. Missy joined the PCCA staff in October 2013 and serves as the organization’s Communications Director. She is passionate about the written word and poetry and thoroughly enjoys serving as Accuracy Judge for POL.


Congratulations to the 2021 Regional Poetry Out Loud (POL) winner Zachary Marshall, senior at Juniata High School!

This is Zachary’s second consecutive win in PCCA’s Annual Regional POL Competition.


Isabella Malocu, Grade 12
East Juniata High School

Isabella has been in theatre productions since she was 8 years old. She has also been taking piano lessons from a young age and enjoys playing the drums and singing.

She is very passionate about music – especially leading worship at church. This is her first time participating in Poetry Out Loud, and she is honored to represent her school.

Zachary Marshall, Grade 12
Juniata High School

Zachary is an avid reader, with an affection for classic literature. He participated in Poetry Out Loud last year and he also loves to play in his school’s pit band.

He goes adventuring when the mood strikes him and tends to panic when faced with unusual traffic patterns. He has broken numerous bones in his lifetime and has come to terms with thefact that there will likely be more to follow.

Brooke Mitchell, Grade 12
West Perry High School

Brooke is enrolled at West Perry with HACC and in Susquehanna University’s Creative Writing program. She hopes to pursue a Creative Writing Secondary Education major and to teach English and creative writing. Brooke has played roles in West Perry theatre productions and has attended and performed at many PCCA Coffeehouse events. She loves that POL combines the art of stepping outside of yourself with her favorite literary form, poetry.


“Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art,” John Keats*

“Flowers,” Cynthia Zarin

“The Star,” Ann Taylor and Jane Taylor*


*Streaming rights acquired


“American Smooth,” Rita Dove 

“Breakfast,” Mary Lamb* 

“The Oldest Living Thing in LA,” Larry Levis* 


“Siren Song,” Margaret Atwood* 

“An Apology For Her Poetry,” Duchess of Newcastle Margaret Cavendish* 

“The Coming Woman,” Mary Weston Fordham* 


Poetry Out Loud starts at the classroom level, with winners advancing to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals.

Judges for the state and regional finals include performers, poets and cultural and business leaders from across the state. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) sponsors the statewide competition along with its regional partners and arts organizations.

Poetry Out Loud is part of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA)’s ongoing efforts to foster educational excellence for Pennsylvania’s students through participation in the creative process.

Visit the Poetry Out Loud website for more details: