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. 

Oregon’s state contest will be virtual in 2022. 

To participate this year, register your school by January 7, 2022.


Contact Amy Gray, School Recruitment Coordinator, with any questions: amyforpoetryloud@gmail.com

How does it work?

Poetry Out Loud starts at school; under leadership from a classroom teacher or other school staff person. Poetry study happens sometimes as part of a school day class project or sometimes 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, which will be virtual in 2021. Regional and state events in Oregon will also be held virtually.

How much does it cost to participate?

Poetry Out Loud is free! Lesson plans are available online. In years with in-person contests, travel assistance to events may be 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 15, 2021. 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 mid-February, 2021. This will involve arranging a panel of at least two judges. Then, register your school champion for a regional contest (date TBA). 

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 a chance to compete in the national finals. 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

Jan 7

Extended deadline for school registration


Feb 8

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)


Feb 11

Deadline to register school winners for state contest. (Registration link coming soon)


Feb 16-27

Recording of student performances (1 hour time slot for each student via zoom)


Friday March 11 5-6:30 pm

Virtual State Contest live stream 

Oregon Arts Commission

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