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Welcome to Poetry Out Loud!

The Idaho Commission on the Arts joins other state arts agencies in partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to support Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation competition that encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

By participating in the program, students master public speaking skills and build self confidence, while also learning how to connect with and analyze literature in new ways. Each state hosts an annual competition, culminating in a national competition among the state winners.

Over 2,000 students across Idaho participate in Poetry Out Loud annually. Any school in Idaho serving students in grades 9-12 is eligible to participate in the Poetry Out Loud program. School registration opens in mid-August and closes in early-December.

Poetry Out Loud Is A Great Way To Teach Poetry!

Teachers from more than 30 Idaho high schools have taken part. Here's what makes the program so popular:

  • it fits well into literature curriculum
  • it creates an entry point for students to appreciate poetry
  • it strengthens community in the classroom
  • it reaches students that might not otherwise take to poetry or recitation
  • it offers more than $50,000 in prizes to students and schools at the state and national level.

Poetry Out Loud Program Information

Participation begins at the classroom level across Idaho. Teachers organize contests involving one class or a whole school with the winners advancing to the state finals, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, DC. Contestants can choose poems from an extensive anthology of classical and contemporary poetry. 

Program materials, all of which are free, include a Teacher’s Guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance; a comprehensive website that includes poetry resources, lesson plans, and video clips; an extensive, searchable online poetry anthology of over 850 poems; and guidelines for recitation evaluation and scoring.

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Winners advance from classroom competitions to school-wide, regional, and then state level competitions. One student from each state advances to the National Finals; each state level winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete for the national championship. The state winner's school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. A runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. Additionally, a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded at the National Finals.

Complete details about the Poetry Out Loud national program can be found here.

2015-16 Poetry Out Loud Registration Now Open

Idaho schools wishing to participate must be registered by a member of that school’s staff. One teacher at each registered school will serve as the Lead Teacher, acting as the primary program contact and coordinating school-level activity among the others participating.

Click here for the Idaho school registration form.

Upon acceptance of a school registration, teachers will receive dynamic teaching tools that will invoke students' excitement about literature and poetry recitation, including sample lesson plans, audio CDs of poets reciting their own famous works, publicity materials for school competitions, and a DVD of winning student performances from the Poetry Out Loud National Finals. Poetry Out Loud curriculum materials include the online poetry anthology, a comprehensive teacher’s guide, a DVD of National Finals performances, lesson plans, and promotional and media guides. Hard copies of materials are free for teachers participating in the official program.

Materials are sent to high schools as they are accepted through the beginning of the school year, and the program is run through early winter. Poetry Out Loud does not require full class periods and can be completed in 2-3 weeks. 

Idaho Poetry Out Loud Important Dates

  • The deadline to register is December 4, 2015.
  • State Finals: Saturday, March 5, 2016, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. in Boise

This year, each participating school will send the winner of their school competition directly to the State Finals in Boise. Modeled after the National Finals, the Idaho State Finals will have semi-final rounds by region earlier in the day with the top 10-12 students competing in the State Final in the late afternoon. The winner from the State Final will advance to the National Finals. Students and teachers living more than 60 miles away from Boise will receive travel stipends and two nights at a hotel close to the event, paid for by the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

  • National Finals: 2016 Poetry Out Loud National Finals will take place in Washington, DC at the Lisner Auditorium on May 2, 3, and 4, 2016.

For questions regarding your schools’ participation, please send an email to the Poetry Out Loud Coordinator.


2015 Idaho State Finals

Starting from a field of more than 2,000 students across Idaho’s high schools, Cheyenne Schultz, a junior at Teton High School in Driggs, took first place in the Idaho State Finals for Poetry Out Loud with her recitations of A Poison Tree by William Blake, The Uniform by Marvin Bell, and The Paradox by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Cheyenne is now the 2015 Idaho State Poetry Out Loud Champion and will travel to Washington, D.C. on an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the national finals on April 27-29, 2015. Additionally, she will receive a $200 prize, and her school library will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

Virginia Harness of Canyon County Homeschoolers took second place and receives $100, with a poetry material stipend of $200 for her school. Tim Malm of Moscow High School and Savina Barini of Xavier Charter School received honorable mentions for their recitations.


Idaho POL Previous State Winners

Savina Barini

2015 - Cheyenne Schultz, Teton High School
2014- Savina Barini, Xavier Charter School
2013 - Savina Barini, Xavier Charter School
2012 - Emily Musette Hays, Moscow Senior High School
2011 - Haley Henderson, Moscow Senior High School
2010 - Haley Henderson, Moscow Senior High School


Idaho State Coordinators Contact Information

Ruth Piispanen
ICA Director of Arts Education
Sarah Poe
Poetry Out Loud Coordinator

National Poetry Out Loud website: www.poetryoutloud.org

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Download the 2015 - 2016 Application HERE


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