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Poetry Out Loud

About the Program

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students 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, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies.

As of August 2023, Poetry Out Loud is being run in partnership with Indiana Humanities. Visit the Indiana Humanities' Poetry Out Loud webpage for more information on how to get involved in the program.

Poetry Out Loud Resources

Resources for Competition Hosts

How to Host a Competition

(School faculty, staff, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to host)

Coaching the students: Over the course of a few weeks, you will help students explore the official POL anthology of poems and select 1-3 that they can memorize and recite. Students will want to find poems that they can relate to. The role of the ‘coach’ in this program is to help students recite the poems in a way that conveys the poet’s meaning. They are not ‘acting’ as a character or narrator of the poem. They are reciting the poem to convey the tone and meaning of the poem. Is it a poem about losing a loved one? Is it a sarcastic poem? Is it fierce and fiery? The way the student recites should convey these underlining feelings without being over the top.

Organizing a local competition: At the start of the POL process, you will select a date that will be the competition event. The competition organizer will recruit 3-4 judges plus an accuracy judge, help the judges learn the criteria, and prepare the judging score sheets for the competition day. This process may vary based on whether you are doing a virtual competition or in-person. A full guide to competition organizing is available in the teacher’s guide.

More Resources for Competition Hosts

Resources for Students

For more information about the being involved in Poetry Out Loud or the timeline of the competition, visit Indiana Humanities.