What is Poetry Out Loud?

What is Poetry Out Loud?

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, the program has reached more than 3.6 million students and 55,000 teachers from 14,000 schools in every state, Washington, DC, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The program has helped students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage through classical and contemporary poetry.

Similar to the National Spelling Bee, Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest begins at the classroom level, as participating teachers use the free Poetry Out Loud toolkit to teach poetry recitations and run classroom competitions. The program does not require full class periods, and all teaching resources are aligned with NCTE ELA Standards, making it an excellent addition to existing curriculum.

Each school champion will go on to compete in the State Finals in Nashville, which includes an exciting weekend of activities and programs for the student and their educator. The winner of the State Finals receives $1,000, as well as a trip with their teacher to represent Tennessee in Washington, DC at the National Poetry Out Loud Finals. The winning student of the National Finals will receive $20,000 – an honor received by a Tennessee student in 2014!

2017 TN Poetry Out Loud state champion, Marquavious Moore
“I learned that I enjoyed poetry – a lot. I’m known as the “football guy” at my school and it surprised me, and others, that poetry would be a big part of my life. Also, I realized that I am not bad at performing and public speaking.” Marquavious Moore, Memphis Tennessee, 2017 Poetry Out Loud State Champion.

Who Can Participate?

Any high school group in Tennessee that teaches students in grades 9-12 can register to participate in Poetry Out Loud. Public, private, parochial, alternative, independent, as well as homeschool groups or organizations and school-sponsored after-school programs — are encouraged to participate.

How can I get started?

Get started by requesting free materials in the Request Materials Form or by downloading the guide online: 2019-2020 Teacher’s Guide. From there, teachers submit a School Registration form to register as a participating school and implement the program in their school by leading a classroom or school-wide competition. Once your school winner has been selected, you can register the school winner for the Tennessee State Finals by submitting the State Finals Registration form.


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