Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition that encourages 9th-12th grade students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. POL is cost-free for participating schools and organizations. Upon registration, organizations receive free curricular materials and program support to host dynamic recitation competitions for high school students.
Bring Poetry Out Loud to Your Students
Idaho schools and organizations must be registered by a staff member who will serve as the POL Lead, acting as the primary contact and coordinating organization-wide activity. In addition to schools, non-school organizations, such as home school cooperatives, libraries, and non-profits, can also host Poetry Out Loud contests.
Upon acceptance of a registration, teachers and organizers will receive curricular materials including access to the online poetry anthology, lesson plans, and promotional and media guides. Materials are sent to schools or organizations as they are accepted through the beginning of the school year and the program is run in early winter. Poetry Out Loud does not require full class periods and can be completed in 2-3 weeks in person or online, depending on your needs.
Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Winners advance from small group competitions to school or organization-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 opportunity to compete in the national championship. The state winner’s school or organization 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 or organization. Additionally, a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded at the National Finals.
Questions? Contact Laura Roghaar, Idaho Poetry Out Loud Coordinator at PoetryOutLoud@arts.idaho.gov.
The Poetry Out Loud Idaho Finals were held virtually February 26-March 3, 2021. True Leavitt from Xavier Charter School (Twin Falls) took top honors for his recitations of Dyed Carnations by Robyn Schiff, Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam by Dan Vera and Revenge by Letitia Elizabeth Landon. Julia Ott from Sun Valley Community School and Elisabeth Edmonds from Lake City High School (Coeur d’Alene), rounded out the top three. Leavitt will now compete at the national level.
About winning 2021 Poetry Out Loud Idaho State Champion title, Leavitt says, “I’ve enjoyed Poetry Out Loud every year since I first started competing in elementary school. It’s strengthened my confidence, instilled in me a love of poetry, and has inspired me to start writing my own poems. I’m excited to represent Idaho at nationals!”
Amanda Loosli, Poetry Out Loud program lead teacher at Xavier Charter School, says, “I have been using Poetry Out Loud in my classroom for more than ten years. I love this program for many reasons, but most of all for how it grows a deep love of poetry in my students.”
During the 2020-2021 season, 1,982 students and 91 teachers at 26 Idaho schools and libraries participated in Poetry Out Loud. The winner of each school or library competition advanced to the remote state semi-finals, where 12 were selected to move on to the finals:
- Boise High School / Bee Taylor
- Classical Christian Academy / Caitlin Duncan
- Community School / Julia Ott
- Eagle High School / Karter Spoklie
- Fruitland High School / Joslyn Philpot
- Lake City High School / Elisabeth Edmonds
- McCall-Donnelly High School / Isaac Speirs
- Middleton Public Library / Amya Hawkins
- Mountain Home High School / Natalia Vasquez
- New Plymouth High School / Emma Austin
- Sugar-Salem High School / Austin Robinson
- Xavier Charter School / True Leavitt
The Idaho State champion receives $200 and the opportunity to compete for the national championship. The champion’s school also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals.
The Poetry Out Loud Idaho Finals were held on Saturday, March 7th, 2020 at the South Junior High Auditorium in Boise. 9 students, from across the state, competed in the annual poetry recitation competition final. Kieran Ellis, a senior from Kuna High School took top honors for his recitation of For the Dogs Who Barked at Me on the Sidewalks in Connecticut by Hanif Abdurraqib, Son/daughter by Kai Conradi and Song: Go and catch a falling star by John Donne. Jaidyn Bruner of Mountain Home High School and Kyran Cates of Teton High School, rounded out the top three.
Idaho State finalist, Kieran Ellis, will receive $200 and $500 will go to Kuna High School for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up, Jaidyn Bruner receives $100, with $200 for her school library.
Competitors also had the opportunity to participate in the Poetry Ourselves competition by submitting original works of poetry in spoken or written form.
A companion to Poetry Out Loud, the Poetry Ourselves competition gives students the opportunity to submit original poetry. This year, Poetry Ourselves submissions were judged by poet Carmen Gimenéz Smith. The competition was open to state champions as well as students who advanced to their state final in states that were unable to hold a competition this year.
Kieran Ellis, the 2020 Idaho Poetry Out Loud State Champion and a student at Kuna High School in Kuna, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves written poetry winner for the poem “Drought.”
Photos by Chelsea Harada
In the 2019-2020 school year, Idaho Poetry Out Loud had 2,933 students and 91 teachers participating in 27 high schools across the state. The winner of each school competition advanced to the state semi-finals in Boise where 9 were selected to move on to the finals: Jaidyn Bruner (Mountain Home High School), Kyran Cates (Teton High School), Kieran Ellis (Kuna High School), Madison Hashagen (Ririe High School), Ashley Mio (Fruitland High School), Rachel Newcomb (Eagle High School), Julia Ott (Sun Valley Community School), Maria Palmer (Classical Christian Academy), and Gabriel Sevy (Sugar-Salem High School).