Wyoming Arts Council

Poetry Out Loud



“It was a true privilege to help judge the Wyoming state-wide Poetry Out Loud competition in Cheyenne earlier this week. The demonstration of passion, courage and skill by those high school students was humbling. Wyoming has a true contender for the national prize, in my opinion. Grateful to have been a part!”     – Kelly Madigan

What is Poetry Out Loud?

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have joined together to create Poetry Out Loud (POL), a program that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Wyoming Poetry Out Loud is administered by the Wyoming Arts Council. POL serves every state and the U.S. Virgin Islands Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. More than 300,000 students participate annually, and that number continues to grow.   The inspiration for the competition is to promote the art of poetry in both the classroom and the community, and provides an entry point for many students to learn to love poetry and find poems that will stay with them for a lifetime.

POL is for high-school students (grades 9-12) at both public and private schools. Eighth graders enrolled in 9th-grade coursework are eligible to compete, at the discretion of the state POL coordinator. Homeschooled students must compete at some level of competition before the state finals. If you are a homeschooled student and would like more information about participating in a contest, please contact the POL coordinator at the bottom of this page.   POL begins in the classroom, with participating teachers using the POL teacher toolkit to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Following a pyramid structure, classroom winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and the state winner goes to the national finals.

NCTE Standards and Classroom Time

Poetry Out Loud satisfies more than half of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) English Language Arts Standards. In addition to memorizing and performing great poems, students will have opportunities to discuss poems and to write their own poetry. The program guide includes optional lesson plans, and other elements the teacher needs to implement POL easily into the classroom.   The schedule and curriculum for Poetry Out Loud allows the program to take place over two to three weeks, according to each teacher’s interest and schedule, and will not require full class periods during that time.   

Free Program Materials

These materials are sent upon receipt of the Intent to Participate form in this packet.

  • Program guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance
  • Hardcopy anthologies of approximately 100 poems
  • DVD of students performing at the national finals, and an audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers
  • Media guides and promotional materials
  • An extensive online poetry anthology and a comprehensive website at www.poetryoutloud.org


Each state-level final competition will award $1,000 in cash prizes. Each champion at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second-place finalist in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library.

Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in scholarship prizes and school stipends at the national finals, including $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists. The remaining nine finalists each receive $1,000, and the schools of the top 12 finalists each will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

Contest Time Frame and Deadlines (subject to change):

  • Sign up to participate by last day of January.
  • Hold your school contest by mid-February.
  • Wyoming’s final usually takes place end of February or March.
  • The National Finals take place end of April in Washington, D.C. For further information about these dates, please go to the Poetry Out Loud link above.

Statewide Contest Travel Information

Schools are asked to provide transportation (state car or school bus) for their winner and chaperone. Mileage is paid for those teachers/chaperones who must drive their own vehicle. Hotel rooms and some meals are provided in Cheyenne. Once a school has determined its champion, contact Katie Christensen at (307) 777-7109.

Read about Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud winners