Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a 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. 

To participate this year, register your school by January 10, 2020.

How does it work?

Poetry Out Loud starts at school; either in a classroom or after school.

One winner from each school advances to a regional contest and the top three contestants from each region proceed to the 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. Travel assistance to state and national events is available.

Who may participate?

Poetry Out Loud is for currently enrolled students in grades 9-12. Accommodations for home school students will be made on a case-by-case basis.

For a full list of participation requirements for regional, state and national events, please refer to the national Poetry Out Loud site: www.poetryoutloud.org

What do I have to do?

School registration must take place by January 10, 2020. 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 by February 20, 2020. This will involve arranging a panel of at least two judges. Then, register your school champion for a regional contest by February 26, 2020. 

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

January 10, 2020
Deadline to submit school registration information

February 20, 2020
Deadline to hold school contests and determine a school winner
(verify eligibility of school winner to participate in regional, state and national contests before proceeding)

February 26, 2020
Deadline to register school winners for regional contests

March 7, 2020
Regional Contests
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Roth’s Event Center: Oregon Room
1130 Wallace Road NW
Salem, Oregon 97304

Rogue Community College/SOU Higher Education Center: Presentation Hall (Rm 132)
101 S. Bartlett St.
Medford, OR 97501

March 9, 2020
Deadline for regional finishers to register for state contest (registration link to come)

March 13, 2020 
State Contest
5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Allied Video Productions Studio
2121 Front Street NE
Salem, Oregon 97301

April 27-April 29, 2020
National Contest, Washington DC

Oregon Arts Commission

(503) 986-0082 (phone)
(503) 581-5115 (fax)
775 Summer Street NE, Ste 200
Salem, OR 97301-1280