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. 

Congratulations to Sarah Calvin-Stupfel, Oregon's 2018 Poetry Out Loud winner from West Salem High School.

Congratulations also to Amy Jarvie, Oregon's 2018 Poetry Out Loud runner-up from Oregon School for the Deaf.

A video, produced by 2011 Oregon Poetry Out Loud winner Nathaniel Dunaway, captures interviews with past state champions about why poetry remains important in their lives long after their participation in the contest.


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 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 must take place by January 12, 2018. 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 21, 2018. This will involve arranging a panel of at least two judges. Then, register your school champion for a regional contest by February 24, 2018. (registration link forthcoming)

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 12, 2018
Deadline to submit school registration information

February 21, 2018
Deadline to hold school contests

Febraury 24, 2018
Deadline to register school winners for regional contests (registration link forthcoming)

March 3, 2018
Salem Regional Contest, 10 AM – 1 PM
Willamete University: Alumni Lounge (3rd Floor, Putnam University Center) 900 State Street
This event is sponsored by the Willamette University English Department

Medford Regional Contest, 1 PM – 4 PM
Rogue Community College: Presentation Hall 101 South Bartlett Street

Portland Regional Contest, 4 PM – 8 PM
Lewis & Clark College: Evans Auditorium 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road

March 5, 2018
Deadline for top three regional finishers to register for state contest (registration link forthcoming)

March 10, 2018
State Contest, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Salem
Salem Public Library: Loucks Auditorium 585 Liberty Street SE

April 23-25, 2018
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