Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a recitation contest open to all Oregon high school students. It is a free program that encourages young performers to dive into American poetry through memorization and competitive performance.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Oregon Arts Commission and other state arts agencies. 

Register your school to participate.

How does it work?

Poetry Out Loud starts at school; either in a classroom or after school. Register your school to participate.

One winner from each school advances to a regional contest and the top three contestants from each region proceed a state championship. One finalist from each state goes on to the National Finals.

How much does it cost to participate?

Poetry Out Loud is free! Lesson plans and classroom resources are provided to all participating teachers and the Oregon Arts Commission may subsidize the cost of travel to the state contest.

Who may participate?

Poetry Out Loud is for public and private high school students (grades 9-12). Accommodations for home school students will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Under federal law, participation in state competitions and the National Finals is limited to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

No student may be excluded from participation in this program on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin.

What do I have to do?

School registration will be available in September. Instructor materials will be mailed to all participating teachers. If more than one classroom is participating, hold classroom competitions to determine which students will compete in your school-wide event.

Hold a school competition to determine one winner. This will involve selecting a panel of at least two judges. Then, register your school champion for the regional contest.

Educational Impact

Poetry Out Loud enables students to engage with great poetry and helps them practice public speaking skills while building self-confidence.

“I loved listening to the state contest, but it was even more gratifying to hear some of my previously shy students speak beautiful words with confidence.”

—Participating Teacher

"Brynn enjoyed the poetry experience on a whole new level. She can better analyze poems and reach a deeper understanding far beyond her previous capabilities. Because she is an aspiring writer, this additional ability to have insight and thoughtfulness to the poetry and prose that she reads is a forever gift. It will serve her well throughout her life.”

—Parent of Oregon State Champion

What do my students get?

Students gain a deep understanding and appreciation of poetry, practice speaking publicly, and the opportunity to cultivate self-confidence.

“If one did not appreciate the power poetry can hold before listening to these performances, one would definitely reconsider his feelings toward poetry after that night!” —Summer, Senior

“I can recognize not only how to speak in front of the public but also how to express my emotions with my poems.” 

—Hien, Junior Exchange Student

There are also scholarship prizes available! Each state champion receives $200 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. The state champion’s school library receives $500 for the purchase of poetry books. The state runner-up receives $100 and the school receives $200 to buy poetry books.

National champions receive a $20,000 scholarship. The second-place winner receives a $10,000 scholarship; third-place winner receives $5,000; and fourth-to twelfth-place winners each receive $1,000. The schools of the top twelve finalists each receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

Important Dates

December 18, 2015
Deadline to submit school registration information

February 26, 2016
Deadline to hold school contests and register school winners for regional contests

March 5, 2016
Southern Regional Contest, 1 PM – 4 PM, Medford
Medford Library: 205 South Central Avenue

Central Regional Contest, 10 AM – 1 PM, Salem
Montag Den, Willamette University: 900 State Street

Northern Regional Contest, 4 PM – 8 PM, Beaverton
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing: 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd

March 8, 2016
Deadline for top three regional finishers to register for state contest

March 12, 2016
State Contest, 1 PM – 4 PM, Salem
Hatfield Room, Willamette University Library: 900 State Street

May 2-4, 2016
National Contest, Washington DC

Oregon Arts Commission

(503) 986-0082 (phone)
(503) 986-0260 (fax)
775 Summer Street NE, Ste 200
Salem, OR 97301-1280