Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud

The first time we participated in POL we saw instant–as in, the next day–improvement in student understanding and appreciation of literature. Once they start understanding the words coming out of their mouths, they can get to know the people behind the words.

–Deborah Bright, The Village School of Naples

What is Poetry Out Loud?

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry competition for high school students sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Florida Department State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. The goal of the program is twofold: it is to give teachers the materials and resources to guide students toward a deeper understanding of the power of language and poetry, and for students to read and recite great poems while enhancing their public speaking and presentation skills. For more on Poetry Out Loud visit poetryoutloud.org.

For an in-depth essay on Poetry Out Loud, we encourage you to read, “The Magic of Speaking Poetry Out Loud,” written by Dana Gioia.  Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet. Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia is a native Californian of Italian and Mexican descent. He received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. Gioia currently serves as the Poet Laureate of California.

This essay was originally published in Zócalo Public Square.



This program is funded in part by the Florida Department State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

How it Works:

For registered schools, poetry study materials are distributed to high school teachers throughout the state as well as instructions for how to hold a school-wide competition. Using the Poetry Out Loud Teacher’s Guide, teachers incorporate poetry into their classroom curriculum while also preparing for the poetry recitation competition. Each school’s winner then participates in the Poetry Out Loud State Finals contest.

The State Finals contest will take place at the University of Florida, St. Petersburg’s Grand Ball room on March 2. Travel assistance will be provided for each student and chaperone. The winner of the state finals is awarded $500 and given an all-expense paid trip (with an adult chaperone) to Washington, DC to compete in the Poetry Out Loud National Finals. The State Champion’s school library receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The runner-up at the state level receives $300 and an additional $200 goes to his or her school library, third place will receive $100. More than $50,000 in prizes and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals in April with the national winner receiving $20,000 in college scholarship funds.

Become a Participant:

Interested high school teachers should register by completing our online form. Within two weeks of registering we’ll send you the Poetry Out Loud toolkit that includes a Teacher’s Guide, lessons plans, promotional posters and a “Learning Recitation” Companion Guide and DVD. For more Poetry Out Loud classroom materials, poems, instructions and other resources visit poetryoutloud.org.

Use the links below to get started. To help guide you through creating an online account, download the POL registration guide below before registering. The deadline to register your school and participate in the competition is January 11, 2019.


Poetry Out Loud Winners

Natalie Schimek
2018 Winner

Alexis Schuster
2017 Winner

Jarod Atchley
2016 Winner

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