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.


Peyton Sheaffer, Grade 12
Juniata High School, Juniata County

“I’m Peyton and I like to wear cool socks. My favorite color is lilac, and I love capybaras and collecting soda tabs. I run track and I’m part of my school’s band, choir, and drama club. Dr. Pepper is my favorite drink, and I wholeheartedly believe I’m the funniest person in the world. Spanish is my favorite class and vanilla is my favorite smell. I love chocolate cake. I also have double-jointed elbows!”

Jordan Knouse, Grade 11
Newport High School, Perry County

“I love all things music; I love to sing and I’ve played the flute for 7 years. I also love English (it’s my favorite subject), and I’m so inspired and happy to be a part of this competition. A special thanks to my supportive friends and family and my wonderful English teachers. I also play basketball.”

Lily Varner, Grade 12
Juniata High School, Juniata County

“I am a growing artist and writer. I spend most of my free time creating, be it for schoolwork, commissions, or just for fun. I have two sisters and a two-year-old brother, who keep the rest of my time quite interesting. I also love languages, reading, and otherwise basking in the splendor of words.”



Lily Varner, senior at Juniata High School


William G. Davies, Jr.

Local poet William G. Davies, Jr. was published by Prolific Press in 2015. “Before There Were Bones” is a slim volume of curiosity and whimsical panache. He is preparing a manuscript of religious verse. The poet has been the recipient of several Perry County Poet Laureate designations. He prizes his marriage of forty-eight years to his wife, Theresa. Together, they have four children and seven grandchildren.

Louie Land

Louie Land teaches creative writing, English, and film at Susquehanna University. His work has appeared in Solum Journal, FRiGG, Heron Tree, and elsewhere. He earned his MFA in fiction at the University of Idaho. He is at work on a novel and a book of poems. An active blues-jazz guitarist, he released his first album, Afterglow, in 2019.

Jessica Ram

Jessica Nirvana Ram is an Indo-Guyanese poet and essayist. She is the 2022-23 Stadler Fellow in Literary Arts Administration. Jessica earned her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and her BA from SusquehaJessinna University. Her work appears in Hayden’s Ferry Review, No Contact Mag, HAD, among others. Her chapbook in the aftermath is forthcoming with Porkbelly Press.


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:


Jack Strawser, senior at Juniata High School