In the Spotlight

2013 National Finals!

Springtime! The earth is rustling itself out of hibernation with the sounds of 53 high school students practicing poetry. It must nearly be time for the Poetry Out Loud National Finals! 

Every year, 53 State Poetry Out Loud Champions descend on Washington, DC to vie for the title of National Champion. These young competitors advanced from a field of some 375,000 students who tested their skills in poetry recitation in more than 2,000 schools nationwide. The top finalists and their schools will receive $50,000 in awards.

Anna Deavere Smith, the award-winning playwright, actress, and MacArthur Fellowship Award recipient, will host the Tuesday evening finals. Guest judges for the National Finals are poets Patricia Smith and Eduardo Corral, BBC correspondent Jane O'Brien, and Tree Swenson, executive director of the Richard Hugo House in Seattle.

The 53 champions will gather at the Poetry Out Loud semifinals on Monday, April 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC. Nine finalists will advance to the National Finals, also held at Lisner Auditorium, on Tuesday, April 30, from 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. For more details on the semifinals and finals schedules, go to this page

To download a pdf of the 2013 Program, click here

The semifinals and finals can be viewed remotely through a live, one-time only webcast. Viewing parties will be arranged throughout the country; gather fellow poetry fans and host your own Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing PartyRegister and find promotional materials, tips on hosting, and details on other viewing parties around the country.

Follow Poetry Out Loud on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, hashtag #POL13. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit or call 202-682-5606.


A Mind of Winter

A sampling of poetry to keep you warm throughout the season. 

Winter Scenes

Chicago and December by W.S. DiPiero -- I walk north across/the river, Christmas lights/crushed on skyscraper glass

I Know, I Remember, But How Can I Help You by Hayden Carruth -- proud to share/the silent magnetic storm that destroys the stars

The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens -- And, nothing himself, beholds/Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

The Snow-Storm by Ralph Waldo Emerson -- Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,/Arrives the snow

Snow Day by Billy Collins -- Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,/its white flag waving over everything

Snowy Owl Near Ocean Shores by Duane Niatum -- His head a swivel of round glances,/his eyes a deeper yellow than the winter sun,

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost -- The only other sound’s the sweep/Of easy wind and downy flake.   


Winter Love

The Snow Is Deep on the Ground by Kenneth Patchen -- Who made the snow waits where love is.

Snowflake by William Baer -- whirling about in a swirling free-/for-all, appearing aimless, just like love

Winter Remembered by John Crowe Ransom -- A cry of Absence, Absence, in the heart,/And in the wood the furious winter blowing.


Childhood Winter

A Country Boy in Winter by Sarah Orne Jewett -- So clear the road! the fastest sled/There is in school I boast.

Ice by Gail Mazur -- In the warming house, children lace their skates,/bending, choked, over their thick jackets.

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden -- Sundays too my father got up early/and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,