Poetry Out Loud, the annual competition celebrating high school student poetry, will return virtually March 6. Four out of the eight students participating in this year’s contest are Lowcountry natives.

In lieu of the usual in-person competition, students were invited to submit videos of themselves reciting poems for their entry.

The finalists in this year’s competition are:

  • Emily Allison (Greenville High School)
  • Meenakshi Balachandran (Calvary Christian School, Myrtle Beach)
  • Simone Cory (James Island Charter School, Charleston)
  • Teagan Domm (Academy Magnet High School, North Charleston)
  • Anna Matson (Aiken High School, Aiken)
  • Pagelyn Smalls (Charleston County School of the Arts)
  • Caleb Xiao (Spartanburg Day School, Boiling Springs)
  • Jazmine Vivas Young (Charleston County School of the Arts)

This year’s contest will be judged by Al Black, Ray McManus, Michelle Reese and Kimberly J. Simms. The winner of the state finals will be awarded $200, and go on to represent South Carolina in the national Poetry Out Loud competition. The winner of the national finals is given a $20,000 prize.

The 2020 Poetry Out Loud contest was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on the national contest, head over to