Praise for Poetry Out Loud

School Coordinators

"LOVED IT! I had no idea, nor did the student who went on to compete in Kansas City, how great this would be. We were thrilled for the winner and every person who presented. What a collection of stars. We are in for next year. It is clear the competition is talented. THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS EVENT POSSIBLE FOR SMALL SCHOOLS LIKE OURS. We have no forensics team or funding for travel, so the stipend is the only one I have ever gotten for speech contests or performance competitions. I appreciate you building that in."

"There was much more enthusiasm than I expected. The feedback from the students participating and viewing the school-wide contest was very positive. We will be expanding it to many more classes next year. It was absolutely wonderful. I'm so glad I decided to get involved!"

"Poetry is NOT a popular topic in my high school, not no way, not no how. BUT, it is the goal of several teachers to create a change in this attitude. We are extremely grateful for this program and the opportunity it afforded our student who went to regional competition. It was a wonderful experience for her to be among other students with enthusiasm for reciting poetry. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And, also the materials were super fabulous! We will try it again next year!"
— Leslie Smith, Grand Rapids, MI

"Our implementation was very successful, particularly since this was the first year. Initially teachers were hesitant, since they had no experience with the program. About half the teachers in the English department ended up participating. However, after seeing the school-wide contest, teachers were very excited about the program. We are already planning to make it bigger and better next year!"


"I found the program generated more excitement about poetry than anything else I've done. I loved how it involved the community members."

"I learned from the program: I was wary of using recitation and memorization in the classroom, but this program helped me to understand that it is such an important part of poetry that a person is really not doing a poem justice without those two activities. I'm planning to use more recitation and memorization next year in my classes."
— Leslie Smith, Grand Rapids, MI

"I loved this contest! It was a very worthwhile experience for my students; I saw a different side to many of them."

"I have participated in the program all three years. In the past, I have worked with students reading far below grade level. For them, though they felt great trepidation about presenting even in front of their own class, Poetry Out Loud was a novel experience. Their self confidence soared once they realized that they could present aloud in front of their peers. Excitement swirled around the school contest, and the winner was delighted to take part in the state competition."
— Leslie Smith, Grand Rapids, MI

"If for no other reason, the search for "just the right poem" exposes to students to such a vast array of forms and poems that the benefits are immeasurable. I heard more poetry being read aloud by students and more discussions about poems than I have heard in over 20 years of teaching!"

State Champions

"Getting out of my comfort zone and trying something that was completely new to me."

"It gave me a greater appreciation of all the different styles of poetry and the many talented artists that wrote them. Whereas before I only saw poetry as a part of my school curriculum in English, now I see it as and art, kind of like acting and theater, it is very versatile and can be molded into what ever you want it to be."

"By memorizing and reciting a poem, you make it a part of you, which necessitates gaining some understanding of it. You have to figure out what it means and how you are going to present it to your audience. It also becomes more personal to you and you appreciate something new about it with each recitation."

"Reading words is great, but they are also meant to be spoken. The way that you say things is so important, and with poetry, which is meant to convey emotions and tell stories, it's crucial. There are poems I didn't get AT ALL before POL that I now love."

"I entered because I am a competitive speaker. Next year I will enter, because I love poetry."

"It has humbled me in a way to be involved with the poems I read. Instead of worrying if I can understand all the words or if it rhymes, I focus on content with which it describes. Poetry is so wonderful and so mysterious that I wish more people would appreciate it."

"This was a great self esteem builder. The entire experience was one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

What People are Saying

"I learned to enjoy older poems. At first, I hated the requirement that I had to choose a poem that was pre-20th century. However, as time went by, I began to enjoy the poems more and more. My favorite pre-20th century poet is now Emily Bronte. "
Eseme Segbefia
2018 NY POL Champ