Poetry Out Loud

Registration for high schools interested in Poetry Out Loud will start this fall. Interested teachers can request a free lesson plan kit. Sign up for our e-news to receive a notification when registration has started.

The first time we participated in POL we saw instant–as in, the next day–improvement in student understanding and appreciation of literature.

—Deborah Bright, The Village School of Naples

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry competition for high school students. The goal of the program is to provide students an opportunity to read and recite great poems while enhancing their public speaking and presentation skills. Teachers first use a free resource guide to help their students develop a deeper appreciation of poetry. Each school holds a recitation contest to determine a school champion.

School champions are then invited to participate in the annual state competition. The 2019 competition was held on the campus of USF St. Petersburg on March 2nd.

The winner of the state finals is awarded $500 and given an all-expense paid trip 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. More than $50,000 in prizes and school stipends are awarded annually at the National Finals in April, with the national winner receiving $20,000 in college scholarship funds.

2019 Finals, USF Tampa

Poetry Out Loud, Florida Champions

Zhaedyn Hodge Sigars
2019 Winner, Howard W. Blake High School, Tampa, Florida
Zhaedyn Sigars is the 2019 State Champion. He recited the poems “Discrimination” by Kenneth Rexroth; “The Song of the Smoke” by W.E.B. DuBois; and “The Paradox” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Natalie Schimek
2018 Winner, Pine View School for the Gifted, Sarasota, Florida
Natalie Schimeck is the 2018 State Champion. She recited the poems “An Apology for Her Poetry” by Margaret Cavendish; “After Apple-Picking” by Robert Frost; and “Across the Bay” by Donald Davie.

Alexis Schuster
2017 Winner, Winter Park High School, Winter Park, Florida
Alexis Schuster is the 2017 State Champion. She recited the poems “All This and More” by Mary Karr; “Amor Mundi” by Christina Rossetti; and “Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg” by Richard Hugo.

Jarod Atchley
2016 Winner, West Port High School, Ocala, Florida
Jarod Atchley is the 2016 State Champion. He recited the poems “The Way It Sometimes Is” by Henry Taylor; “Poem” by Muriel Rukeyser; and “Holy Sonnets: Death, Be Not Proud” by John Donne.

Poetry Out Loud is made possible by: