Sponsoring Institution: National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation

Type: Poetry reciting competition

• 9-12th grade U.S. students eligible
• Exceptions may be made  if you are an 8th grader taking high school courses
• Must compete in lower level competition
• Students may also participate using Braille or Sign Language!

Application Deadline: May


“The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
signs of freedom.”
From… I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

Do you feel a special connection to the poetic world and want to find a deeper meaning behind the words? Poetry out Loud, a poetry reciting competition will push you outside your boundaries to discover a new side of the art, by showcasing their public speaking skills and reciting at least three poems from the Poetry Out Loud print or online anthology. During this poetry reciting competition, judges will assess you based on the way you deliver and connect with the poems. You can find more about the judging criteria here. On their website, you can find more tips that will prepare you beforehand and there are even videos that show you the work of previous participants. Every year, up to $50 000 is awarded to winners and to their representing school/organization. It’s important to note that students who want to compete must be registered with their school. Homeschooled students can also participate at a local school poetry reciting competition in their region. In case your school is not going you can still contact your state Poetry Out Loud coordinator to find more opportunities and for a way to partake in the national level poetry reciting competition. You can participate at the state level competition after you have competed at a lower, local level. When you have been selected as the state level winner, you will receive $200 and receive an all-expenses-paid trip to compete at the National Finals in Washington, DC.
During this poetry reciting competition, teachers play an important role to ensure that every student can perform at their best, so let your teachers or school staff know that they should contact their state Poetry out Loud coordinator to make sure that students with disabilities have accessibility. Students who are deaf are also encouraged to participate. They will translate the poems in American sign language and then present it. This poetry reciting competition is made to break all the barriers and make sure that everyone can participate to build their confidence as well as appreciate the art of poetry. 

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