How can I get my class or school involved in Poetry Out Loud?

State arts agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands recruit high schools to participate in the official Poetry Out Loud program. You must first contact your state’s Poetry Out Loud coordinator to find out if your high school is eligible to participate. You will then work with the state coordinator to get the program up and running in your school.We provide all the necessary materials for Poetry Out Loud on this website. If your school is not in a participating region this year, please feel free to use the online materials to run your own, unofficial program.

How much class time does Poetry Out Loud take to run?

The official Poetry Out Loud program is implemented in schools in fall and early winter. The program does not require full class periods and can be completed in 2-3 weeks. There are, however, many opportunities to make Poetry Out Loud part of a larger poetry curriculum.

Can students choose poetry outside of the poems in the anthology?

No. This website includes an online anthology of more than 900 poems. The students must choose from that online anthology, or from the print Poetry Out Loud anthology. If a poem appears in the print anthology but cannot be found in the online anthology, it is still eligible for competition.

Are there any participation restrictions?

No student may be excluded from participation in this program on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin. Schools may determine eligibility for classroom- and school-level Poetry Out Loud programs pursuant to local and state law. Under federal law, participation in state competitions and the National Finals is restricted to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Foreign exchange students and other visitors are not eligible to compete for titles or official prizes at the state and national level, unless they are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A National Champion is not eligible to compete in future years.

What are the award amounts at the state and national levels?

The following awards are offered for the official state and national finals. The awards do not apply to other contests. Each winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, DC, to compete in the National Finals. The state winner's school will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. Some states may offer additional prizes. We will award $50,000 total in cash and school stipends at the National Finals, with a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion. Awards will be made in the form of lump sum cash payouts, reportable to the IRS. Tax liabilities are the sole responsibility of the winners and their families.

Why has a poem been removed from the online anthology?

Poems that are particularly popular or ones that have been used frequently in national competition are occasionally retired. This way, the Poetry Out Loud program can highlight new poems for students and their audiences. Judges also appreciate hearing new performances. All poems appearing after September 1 in the online anthology and those in the print anthology are eligible for competition.

What are the judging criteria?

All contestants are evaluated on these criteria: physical presence, voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, dramatic appropriateness, accuracy, and overall performance.

What People are Saying

"Poetry Out Loud helped me gain confidence in myself. I'm usually quite shy, but memorizing and performing poems and meeting new people along the way has given me confidence that I will always carry with me."
Raina Verser
2017 AL POL Champion