Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest that encourages 9th-12th grade students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.
The program is completely free for participating schools, libraries, and home schools. When you register, you’ll receive curricular materials and dedicated support to create a program that fits your students. Poetry Out Loud can be adapted for use in-person or online, and the scope and timing of your contest is up to you.
Bring Poetry Out Loud to Your Students
Each school year, this program invites thousands of students, teachers, and librarians to deeply engage with poetry and performance. Students read and interpret a broad range of poems, from classical to contemporary, and then they choose one to memorize and perform in a dynamic contest at their school or library.
The winner of each institution-level contest is invited to the state final in Boise, and our Idaho champion goes on to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Final for prizes totaling $50,000 in cash awards and school stipends. It’s a pretty big deal!
Idaho schools and libraries are registered by a staff member who serves as the POL lead, acting as the primary contact and coordinating organization-wide activity. Other organizations, such as home school cooperatives and non-profits, are also welcome to host Poetry Out Loud contests.
POL Idaho 2023-2024 Dates & Deadlines
September 1, 2023: POL online anthology live for 2023-24 season
December 1, 2023: Registration closes, Participation counts due
February 7, 2024: Deadline to hold a contest at your institution & submit champion info
February 15, 2024: Deadline for champs to submit two poem recitation videos to the remote Idaho State Semifinals
February 16-17, 2024: Remote judging of Idaho State Semifinals recitation videos
February 19, 2024: Top 12 Idaho State Finalists announced; Travel arrangements made
March 16, 2024: Idaho State Finals in-person in Boise
March 21, 2024: Deadline for state champ & chaperone to register for National Finals
April 30-May 2, 2024: Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC
Questions? Contact the Poetry Out Loud Idaho Coordinator at PoetryOutLoud@arts.idaho.gov.
The Poetry Out Loud (POL) Idaho coordinator is Chris Mathers Jackson. Chris is a lifelong writer-educator with an MA in English Literature from University of Montana. She is a teaching writer for The Cabin Literary Center in Boise and is currently working towards a second MA in Secondary English Teaching. She is excited to support youth poetry education through POL!
Congratulations to our 2023 POL Idaho state champion, Liam Peterson! Liam will receive a $200 cash prize and the opportunity to compete at the National Finals of Poetry Out Loud in Washington, D.C., where a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually. His school, Mountain Home High School, will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials.
About his experience with Poetry Out Loud, Liam says,
“I learned that there is definitely a poem for everyone. I have connected to the ones I chose and learned to love them so much, and I really enjoy seeing others fall in love with theirs!”
About her decision to present the Poetry Out Loud curriculum to her students, Liam’s teacher Taunya Page says,
“Poetry Out Loud has been an annual competition at Mountain Home High School for many years. As a current theatre director and former English teacher, it is a great way for me to offer a performance opportunity to my students while they explore a creative, literary-based text.”
The 2023 Poetry Out Loud Idaho first runner-up is Cassius Klingenfuss from Sun Valley Community School. Cassius has won a $100 cash prize, and his school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry materials. The second runner-up is Kylee Thomas from McCall-Donnelly High School.
View this post on Instagram
Photo credit: Visionkit Studio/Aaron Rodriguez
During the 2022-2023 season, 1,737 students and 79 teachers at 20 Idaho schools participated in Poetry Out Loud.
Congratulations to our 2022 POL Idaho state champion, Seth Hill! Seth will receive a $200 cash prize and the opportunity to compete at the remote National Finals of Poetry Out Loud, where a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually. His school will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials.
About the Poetry Out Loud program, Seth’s teacher Jenna Bailey at Classical Christian Academy says,
“POL has positively changed our school culture as it pertains to poetry. I have seen a marked increase in the love of poetry among our students. They look forward to choosing their poems, enjoy showing me books of poetry they purchased, and writing their own poems. Our all-school Poetry Out Loud event is a big deal for us. We have it at a beautiful venue that fills with families, students, and alumni who come to cheer on the contestants.”
About his experience with Poetry Out Loud, champion Seth Hill says,
“I am honored to represent Classical Christian Academy at the national level. After four years of Poetry Out Loud, I’ve discovered a newfound love of poetry and the power of beautiful words upon the minds of an audience.”
The first runner-up is April Church from McCall-Donnelly High School in McCall, ID. April has won a $100 cash prize, and her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry materials.
The second runner-up is Makayla Moffet from Hope Christian Academy in Marsing, ID.
During the 2021-2022 season, 2,146 students and 130 teachers and librarians at 28 Idaho schools and libraries participated in Poetry Out Loud.
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.
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).