About The Program

Poetry Out Loud is a free program created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation for students in grades 9 – 12. Since 2005, it has helped students in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and improve their reading comprehension scores while learning about their literary heritage.

Through the Poetry Out Loud curriculum, teachers guide students to a deeper, richer understanding of the power of language and literature by helping them develop a personal relationship with great poems. An added benefit is that Poetry Out Loud offers all students the opportunity to compete for awards, prizes, and recognition.

Who Can Participate?

Any school or homeschool group in Mississippi that teaches students in grades 9 – 12 can register to participate in Poetry Out Loud. Public, private, parochial, alternative, independent, and Christian schools — as well as homeschool groups or organizations and school-sponsored afterschool programs — are encouraged to participate. Individual students, individual homeschools, and community groups or programs (clubs, Centers, etc.) cannot register to participate, but are welcome to use Poetry Out Loud as an activity.

2018 Registration Form

Past Winners

2017  |  Lawson Marchetti  |  Jackson Preparatory School
2016  |  Lawson Marchetti  |  Jackson Preparatory School
2015  |  Joy Carino  |  Mississippi School for Mathematics & Science
2014  |  Joy Carino  |  Starkville High School
2013  |  Akane Little  |  Starkville High School
2012  |  Kristen Dupard*  |  Ridgeland High School  *National Champion
2011  |  Kristen Dupard  |  Ridgeland High School
2010  |  John Eze Uzondinma  |  Rosa Scott School
2009  |  Shaniqua Wesley  |  Water Valley High School
2008  |  Grant Cochran  |  Washington School
2007  |  Melissa Cline  |  Ridgeland High School
2006  |  Ryan Breeland  |  Brookhaven High School

Contest Structure And Awards

Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest begins at the classroom level. Winners advance to school-wide contest, Regional Contests, State Finals and, ultimately, to the National Contest held in Washington, D.C. The State Champion receives $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington to compete in the National Contest. The Champion’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The runner-up receives $100, with $200 going to his or her school library. At the National Contest, contestants can win $1000, $5000, $10,000 or the grand prize of $20,000.

Program Materials And Schedule

Schools that register to participate in Poetry Out Loud will receive free curriculum materials including print and online poetry anthologies, a teachers guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance, an audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers, a video DVD of “best practices” examples of student recitations, promotional and media guides, a comprehensive website, and support from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the POL State Coordinator. Schools that choose not to register may still access the Poetry Out Loud website and use the materials available there — but they will not be invited to participate in the Regional, State, and National Recitation Contests.

Questions? See the Frequently Asked Questions for Poetry Out Loud.

For more information, contact Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, Ken Bolinsky at poetryoutloud@arts.ms.gov.