Wyoming Arts Council

Poetry Out Loud Program


What is Poetry Out Loud?

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation joined together to create Poetry Out Loud, a program that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. The Wyoming Arts Council is proud to support and administer this program — we invite all Wyoming high school students to participate. Poetry Out Loud serves every state and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. 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 love poetry, finding poems that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Poetry Out Loud is a free contest for high-school students (grades 9-12) in both public and private schools. 8th-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 performance and run classroom competitions. Following a pyramid structure, classroom winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, with the state winner going to the national finals in Washington, DC.

Common Core, 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 and many of the Common Core State Standards in Reading and Language. In addition to memorizing and performing great poems, students will have opportunities to discuss poems and to write their own poetry, depending on how the teacher incorporates lessons into the class. The program guide includes optional lesson plans, and other elements teachers need to implement Poetry Out Loud 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 Registration Form:

  • Teacher’s Program guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance
  • Lesson plans
  • Videos of student performances
  • Hardcopy anthology of over 100 poems
  • Media guides and promotional materials
  • An extensive online poetry anthology and a comprehensive website at poetryoutloud.org


Each state champion will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete at the National Finals. The state champion’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up in each state will receive $100; his or her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be awarded at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, with a $20,000 award for the National Champion. The second-place winner will receive a $10,000 award; the third-place winner will receive $5,000; and the fourth- to ninth-place finalists will each receive $1,000. Their schools will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books. There will be one runner-up in each semifinal competition. That student will not advance to the finals, but will receive a $1,000 cash award and $500 school stipend.

Contest Timeline and Deadlines

Register to participate by December 18, 2015.

Hold your school contest and report winner by January 22, 2016.

Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud State Competition is March 7-8, 2016 in Cheyenne, WY.

The National Finals take place May 2-4, 2016, in Washington, DC.

Register Today!

Additional Information

How do I register my school?
Schools must register for WY Poetry Out Loud by completing the registration form by December 18, 2015. ALL Wyoming public, private and, parochial high schools, and home school associations are eligible to participate in POL. (Participating students must be in grades 9-12 or in the age/grade equivalent.) Only a teacher or administrator can register a school to participate in Poetry Out Loud.

Important Message for Students: If your school is not registered for POL, encourage your teacher to participate. Need help or more information? Contact the Poetry Out Loud Coordinator.

What happens when I register my school?
Registered schools will receive free multi-media toolkits which include: a teacher’s guide complete with lesson plans, guidance on classroom contests, evaluation criteria, posters, and customizable contest announcement poster. In addition, teachers will receive updates and support from the WY Poetry Out Loud Coordinator throughout the year. You will need to host your school competition between now and early January 2016.

The anthology and a digital copy of the curriculum guide, the official rules and eligibility, and tips for organizing a school competition can be found on the national Poetry Out Loud website: poetryoutloud.org.

How does the curriculum work?
The curriculum for Poetry Out Loud is designed to fit into a teacher’s busy schedule. The program takes place over the span of a few weeks, according to each teacher’s interest and agenda, and does not require full class periods. To accommodate schools’ testing demands and vacation calendars, Poetry Out Loud can be implemented at the school level anytime now through early January 2016.

Read about Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud winners