Wyoming Arts Council

Poetry Out Loud


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
  • 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

Registration Open: August 15 – December 22, 2017

Hold your school contest and report winner by: January 31, 2018

Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud State Competition: March 5-6, 2018 in Cheyenne

The National Finals take place April 23-25, 2018, in Washington, DC.

How do I register my school?
Registration is now closed for this year’s Poetry Out Loud.

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.

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 the end of January 2018.

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 the end of January 2018.

New Community Service/Outreach Opportunity for 2018: Poetry for Life

Note: Participation in Poetry for Life is an optional extension of Poetry Out Loud, and not a requirement for the competition. Participation dates are flexible and may occur after the state competition is finished.

We are excited to announce Poetry for Life (PFL). PFL joins the skills and passion of the young poets of the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, with elders and people living with memory loss.

This service-learning, intergenerational project supports teachers and students with website resources and a live, artist led classroom webinar.


PFL website includes:

  • Lesson plans
  • Testimonials
  • Student writing samples
  • Images and videos
  • Research on using poetry with older adults and people living with memory loss
  • Information and scripts on contacting your local adult day care, assisted living or senior center.

The live classroom webinar typically lasts an hour and students will learn:

  • How to build a poetry program for older adults.
  • How to plan a poetry field trip to an adult day care, assisted living or senior center.
  • A better understanding of creative aging and person centered care.

The webinar also includes a video to help understand the basics of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

Students perform their Poetry Out Loud poems in a public setting for older adults. Older adults and students have a chance to interact and have discussions around the poems.

The poetry field trip will typically last an hour, plus travel time. The field trip is followed by time for the students to discuss and write about their experiences. The discussion and writing session typically takes 30 minutes to an hour.

The classroom webinar, poetry field trip and writing session take between 3 and 4 hours and may be completed in one day or over several days to best fit the school’s needs.

“It benefits the students so much to be able to go to an assisted living facility and meet the people there and see what their life is like. To see the joy and excitement they can bring the people. I want to do it every year,” Emily Lemoine, English Teacher, Andrews High School, Greensboro, NC

PFL is brought to you in partnership by the Wyoming Arts Council, Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, and the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

Participation in PFL and webinar training are provided gratis to the teachers or students by our generous funders.

Please visit: poetryforlife.org or contact Tara Pappas (POL State Coordinator) for more information.

To set up your live classroom webinar please contact:

Gary Glazner
Poetry for Life, Project Director

Read about Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud winners