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Poetry Out Loud



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Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board and SCSC. 

Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. 

This activity is made possible by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.                                              

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. Awards and placements are determined solely by the judges’ scores based on the Poetry Out Loud Evaluation Criteria.

Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, DC to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for their school. At the national finals, a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually.
 

Please review the Rules & Eligibility for additional details.

Poetry Out Loud provides free curriculum materials, including an online poetry anthology,  a comprehensive teacher’s guide, videos of student performances, lesson plans, NCTE and ELA Standard alignment, promotional and media resources, as well as tips for organizing your local contest. After registering, materials are sent to participating high schools on a rolling basis beginning in September. (Poetry Out Loud does not require full class periods and can be completed in 2-3 weeks.)  

 

While teachers, students, and poetry lovers everywhere can use the free materials to organize their own contests, the official contest is limited to the programs run by each state’s arts agency.

  • Schools should register program participation by Jan. 10 and complete local competition by Feb. 1.
  • Regional competitions will be held the first three weeks in February.
  • State competition to be held the last week of February.
  • National competition in Washington, D.C. in late April.

POETRY OUT LOUD 2019-2020
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Poetry Out Loud?
A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Schools that choose to participate in Poetry Out Loud start the program in the classroom, where teachers may use the Poetry Out Loud toolkit to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Students select, memorize, and recite poems from an anthology of more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems. Beginning at the classroom level, winners will advance to the school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. Since the program began in 2005, more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.

 
Where and when will Poetry Out Loud take place?
Poetry Out Loud takes place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. High schools that choose to participate in the official competition conduct their classroom and school-level programs and contests between September 2019 and February 2020. State contests will be held by early March 2020. The national finals will take place April 28–29, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
 

Who can participate in the official Poetry Out Loud contest?
The official Poetry Out Loud contest is administered at the state level by state and jurisdictional arts agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All types of high schools are welcome to participate, including public, private, parochial, independent, charter, etc. Only schools registered with their state Poetry Out Loud coordinator are eligible for the competition.
 
Only currently enrolled students in grades 9–12 are eligible, with an exception made for 8th-grade students participating in a 9th- through 12th-grade class. A Poetry Out Loud National Champion is not eligible to compete in future years.
 
No student may be excluded from participating in Poetry Out Loud on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability or national origin. More information on Poetry Out Loud rules and eligibility may be found at poetryoutloud.org.
 
Are schools that are not part of the official contest welcome to participate in other ways?
All of the Poetry Out Loud program materials are available for free online in the Teachers & Organizers section of the website. Using these online materials, schools are welcome to conduct their own “unofficial” poetry recitation competitions and introduce their students to classic and contemporary poetry.
 

Are program materials available?
Poetry Out Loud offers educators free standards-based curriculum materials, which include an online poetry anthology with more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation. These free resources are available at poetryoutloud.org.
 
What are the prizes?
National Level: A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be given at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the National Champion, $10,000 for 2nd place, $5,000 for 3rd place, and $1,000 for 4th-9th places. The schools of each of the top 9 finalists receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. There will be one honorable mention in each of three national semifinals competitions. Those students will not advance to the finals, but will each receive a $1,000 cash award and a $500 school stipend.

State Level: Each winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip (with an adult chaperone) to Washington, DC, to compete at the National Finals. The state winner’s school will receive $500 for poetry materials. One runner-up in each state will receive $100; their school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry materials.

The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded and travel arrangements to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals. Awards are made in the form of lump sum cash payouts, reportable to the IRS. Tax liabilities are the sole responsibility of the winners and their families. Full details on prize requirements and travel and accommodations requirements are available in the rules and eligibility section of the website.

What is the structure of the National Finals?
On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, from 9 a.m.–8 p.m., all 53 champions will compete in three regional semifinals (17–18 students per round). The top three contestants from each semifinal will advance to the national finals on Wednesday, April 29. At the finals, all nine will compete in two rounds of recitations. The top three advance to recite a third poem, and the contestant with the highest scores from all three rounds will be named Poetry Out Loud National Champion.
 
What are the judging criteria?
All contestants are evaluated on these criteria: physical presence, voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, dramatic appropriateness, accuracy, and overall performance. For more information regarding these criteria, please consult the teacher’s guide.
 

How can I get more information?
Visit poetryoutloud.org for more information on this program. The website features educational resources for teachers and students, including standards-based educational materials, tips on hosting a school contest, and videos of outstanding performances.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.
 
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audiences.

The Minnesota State Arts Board is a state agency that stimulates and encourages the creation, performance and appreciation of the arts in the state.

                                                                                                                                                                             

Contact

Mary Hillmann, 507-389-2509