Haiar tops at national Poetry Ourselves contest

(Courtesy photo) Lauren Haiar performs during the national PoetryOutLoud finals in Washington, D.C.
(Courtesy photo) Lauren Haiar performs during the national PoetryOutLoud finals in Washington, D.C.

On April 23-25, Sundance High School junior Lauren Haiar traveled to Washington D.C. to compete in the national finals of the PoetryOutLoud poetry recitation contest and the Poetry Ourselves original student-written poetry contest.

Both encourage the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through writing, memorization and recitation, and help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. PoetryOutLoud and Poetry Ourselves are both produced by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lauren’s powerful performance at the state competition last month won her $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national finals to represent the state of Wyoming on the national stage at Lisner Auditorium on the grounds of the historic George Washington University.

In the PoetryOutLoud regional recitations, Lauren recited “The Conqueror Worm” by Edgar Allan Poe and “Monet Refuses the Operation” by Lisel Mueller. Despite Lauren’s refined and grounded recitations, she was edged out heading into the second round.

When the emcee announced the Poetry Ourselves winners, Lauren’s mouth dropped open when her name was called as the first place in the nation. Her poem “Creation Story” won acclaim from professional poet Jamaal May and judges at the national level.

Recalling Lauren’s walk across the stage to receive her award, her mother Sherry Haiar was beside herself.

“I was so disappointed about putting the camera away. It came as a big surprise,” she recollected.

I am also so very proud of her. When was the last time Sundance had a national champion? Lauren has a gift, and it is so gratifying to see her recognized on a national stage.

In lieu of her success, Lauren was invited to the Dirksen Senate Building and congratulated by the Wyoming congressional delegation, including Senator Mike Enzi, Senator John Barasso and Representative Liz Cheney. They made known their pride in how she represented the state, let alone Crook County and Sundance, so well.

First place trophy in hand, Lauren returned to Sundance beaming. To have experienced such success on the national stage two years running by her junior year, Lauren will be a student to watch as next year approaches.

Her winning poem is as follows:


A Creation Story


my mind slips away into itself

like the phases of the moon

tectonic plates


my personas sliding upon one another

on top of one another spilling

mountains of my inquiries from my mouth


only to pull away in the rumbling quakes

creating deep crevices in the ocean bottom of my mind

rewrite the landscape of my body


Pangea, my mother

has broken herself into

my brother’s continents


and the way you love the moon when it is less full

Please could you love my heart as well