Poetry Out Loud

The Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest is sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with state arts agencies, such as the PA Council on the Arts, across the United States. Poetry Out Loud (POL) encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

Congratulations to Pittsburgh's own Anna Voelker who came in second for the state of Pennsylvania! The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured Anna in their "Person of Interest" column in March.

Find out about Pennsylvania's State Champion, Elliot Davidson, here.


In the eight years since it was first established, student participation in Poetry Out Loud has increased every year with 375,000 students competing nationally in 2012-13 including more than 10,000 participants from 115 high schools in Pennsylvania!

Why is there so much participation and enthusiasm? Because the program works! Through a memorization, recitation, and contest format that starts at the classroom level and pyramids through school, regional, and state competitions students become engaged by and excited about poetry!

You are invited to join other high schools across the region, state, and country for the 2013-14 Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest! Your high school’s champion will participate in the regional finals (13 to be held in PA) and those regional champions will participate in the state finals in Harrisburg on Monday, March 10, 2014. Pennsylvania’s 2012 state champion, Daphnee McMaster of Reading High School, placed in the top nine in the national finals.

Some reasons why POL is so successful:

  • It can be run in as little as 2-3 weeks at the school level and does not require full class periods.
  • All program materials - poetry anthology, teacher's guide, DVD, lesson plans, and promotional and media guides - are free and are provided online with hard copies also available.
  • Studying literature, including poetry, addresses at least three Anchor Assessments as per the PA Common Core ELA Standards: Speaking and Listening (SL. 9-10, SL 12-11), Reading (RL. 9-10, RL 11-12), and Language (L. 9-10, L 11-12).
  • The process helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts’ Arts in Education and POL service region includes Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, and Washington counties.

Please note that community organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, can also participate in Poetry Out Loud.

If you’re interested in participating but have some questions please feel free to contact Mary Brenholts, Director of School & Community Programs, at mbrenholts(at)pittsburgharts(dot)org or 412-361-0873, ex 368.

Documents and Forms

We'll post forms for 2014-2015 in Summer 2014.