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Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry – recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of rap music among youth. Poetry Out Loud invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with the State Arts Agencies to bring the Poetry Out Loud (POL) program to all 50 states and US territories.

In Idaho, Poetry Out Loud (POL), is administered by the Idaho Commission on the Arts.


Poetry Out Loud is for high-school students (grades 9-12) at both public and private schools.

Poetry Out Loud starts in the classroom, with participating teachers using the Poetry Out Loud teacher toolkit to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions.

Once registered, each participating teacher/school site will receives a toolkit, which includes a program guide to help teach recitation and performance, an audio guide with selected poems recited by distinguished actors and writers, and print anthologies for students to select their poems—free of charge.

Program Structure and Curriculum

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that begins at the classroom level.  Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals.

The curriculum for POL is designed to fit into a teacher’s busy schedule.  The program takes place over the span of two to three weeks, according to each teacher’s interest and agenda, and does not require full class periods during that time.  Poetry Out Loud satisfies most of the National Council of Teachers of English Language Arts Standards.  In addition to memorizing and performing great poems, students have the opportunity to discuss poetry and – if the teacher wishes to use the supplemental lesson plans – to write poetry of their own.

State Prizes

Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, (with an adult chaperone) to compete at the National Finals. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. One runner-up in each state receives $100; his or her school receives $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

National Prizes

A total of $50,000 in scholarship awards and school stipends are awarded at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship award for the National Champion.

More Information

Visit the National Endowment for the Arts’ official Poetry Out Loud website for detailed information about the program, including video highlights, frequently asked questions more information.

To learn out more about Idaho Poetry Out Loud, contact Ruth Piispanen, ICA Director of Arts Education or Sarah Poe, Idaho Poetry Out Loud Coordinator

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Idaho State Poetry Out Loud Finals


The Idaho State Poetry Out Loud Final, held Saturday, February 26 at Northwest Nazarene University, was won by Haley Henderson, a senior at Moscow High School. Tristan Sokol, a junior, also of Moscow High, placed second, and Jessy Forsmo-Shadid, a sophomore at Kuna High School, earned third place honors.

Poetry Out Loud Student Recitation Videos

Thirteen students from across Idaho gathered at Northwest Nazarene University Little Theater to compete in the Poetry Out Loud state final. These talented students had already won competitions at both the school and regional level.

Each of the competitors recited two poems before a panel of six distinguished judges and the theatre audience. The three top scoring students from the first two rounds recited a third poem in order to determine the one student, second time champion Haley Henderson, who would compete in the national Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington D.C. on April 29. Henderson’s winning poem was “The Meaning of the Shovel” by Martin Espada.

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Poetry Out Loud Student Recitation Videos

The Poetry Out Loud 2011 state finals were filmed by Peppershock Media Productions.

State champion - Haley Henderson, Moscow High School
2nd place- Tristan Sokol, Moscow High School
3rd place - Jessy Forsmo-Shadid, Kuna High School

Idaho Finalist Haley Henderson

Idaho Finalist Tristan Sokol

Idaho Finalist Jessy Forsmo-Shadid

Poetry Out Loud 2011 Idaho Awards


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