Poetry Out Loud


Since 2005, high school students from across Connecticut have benefited from Poetry Out Loud (POL), a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation.   

On average, more than 200,000 students nationwide take part each year. This free program encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. Not only does it enable students to learn about their literary heritage, it helps them master public speaking skills and builds self-confidence.  

Contest Structure

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners from each class will advance to the schoolwide competition. Each school will send a finalist to the Connecticut state finals. Ultimately, one student per state will advance to the National Finals in Washington, DC.   

Standards and Classroom Time

The schedule and curriculum for Poetry Out Loud have been intentionally designed to fit into a teacher's busy schedule without much disruption. The program takes place in the classroom over about two to three weeks and does not require full class periods during that time. In fact, Poetry Out Loud satisfies more than half of the NCTE English Language Arts Standards. 

Free Resources

In addition to hands-on training with professional artists, participating schools receive the following free multimedia educational materials:

  • Teachers’ guide which includes all elements the teacher needs to implement the program — from tools to help students memorize and perform great poems to optional lesson plans that give students opportunities to discuss poems and write poetry  
  • A comprehensive website that includes program materials, writing activities and lesson plans 
  • An extensive online poetry anthology
  • Hardcopy anthologies of approximately 130 poems 
  • Audio CD of distinguished actors and writers reciting and talking about poetry
  • Best Performance DVD 
  • Media guides and promotional materials


Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to Washington, DC, for the National Finals. 

  • The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.
  • A runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library.
  • Winners receive $50,000 total in scholarships and school stipends at the National Finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.   


For more information or if you have questions, please contact:

Tekowa Omara-Otunnu
Program Associate, Arts in Education
(860) 500-2379