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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.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Students in grades 9-12 in Indiana
  • All poems must be selected from the Poetry Out Loud print or online anthology
  • Students must compete at a school-level competition before competing at state finals.

State Awards:

  • Each winner at the state level will receive $200 in prize money as well as the opportunity 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. Student winners will also receive a physical award designed by an Indiana artist.  Check out last year's Poetry Out Loud Award below-

Image of the 2021 Poetry Out Loud State Champion Award

Poetry Out  Loud 2022 Awards were illustrated by  Taj Mullins, New Albany

National Awards:

  • 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.
  • The national finals will take place in April. More information will be announced sooner to the competition.

About the Program

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

Is your school not hosting a competition? Individual students will be invited to compete in a virtual competition with the Indiana Humanities. The deadline to sign up as an individual student is December 9, 2022.

Tip: Check out the videos of past national POL winners online.



For information and questions, contact the Poetry Out Loud State Coordinator Stephanie Haines at or (317) 450-9973.

Interested in taking part in the statewide original poetry competition? Check out Poetry Ourselves.