Our Stories, Our Lives

Poetry Out Loud


Coral Brantly of Petoskey High School. Photo credit: Dave Trumpie

TEACHERS: Do you want your school to be a part of Poetry Out Loud 2015-16?  Fill out our Participation Form.

What is Poetry Out Loud?

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition for high school students. By encouraging youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Participating high schools host their own competitions and select a student to represent their school at the regional finals. The top two regional competitors will advance to the state finals. The state champion will advance to the national finals in Washington, D.C. and compete for a $20,000 college scholarship. School champions will be invited to participate in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, a three-day event featuring the finest artistic talent in Michigan high schools. Nearly 80,000 students from more than 50 Michigan high schools have participated in Poetry Out Loud programs since 2005.

Application and Teacher Resources

  • School Participation Form  (Open PDF file and save to your computer, fill out the form,  and return it to MHC as an email attachment or print)
  • Permission forms for use of image and recording (Under 18)  (Over 18)
  • Travel reimbursement form (Teacher evaluations required prior to travel reimbursement distribution)
  • Lead teacher evaluation form via MHC website
  • Student evaluation forms: Students may complete their surveys on paper (PDF) or online via MHC website. Student paper surveys must be collated and submitted as part of the lead teacher evaluation forms (above).
  • School Champion Form
  • Eligible poems
  • Teacher’s Guide

2015 State Competition Results

Coral Brantly of Petoskey High School, was named the 2015 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion after a day-long recitation competition at Dart Auditorium at Lansing Community College on March 13.

Brantly took top honors among 33 student competitors, reciting “The Maid’s Lament” by Walter Savage Landor in her final round. First runner-up was Cal Kreiner of Wellspring Preparatory High School (Grand Rapids), second runner-up was Malik Childs of Cass Technical High School, and third runner-up was Ejiro Enajero of Detroit School of Arts.

2015 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Finalists. Photo credit: Dave Trumpie

2015 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Finalists. Photo credit: Dave Trumpie

“On behalf of the Board and staff of the Michigan Humanities Council, I want to extend my congratulations to the 33 High School students who participated in the 2015 Poetry Out Loud Competition,” said Jan Fedewa, Interim Executive Director.  “It was an amazing and meaningful experience to observe the recitation of each student who competed for the title.  We are so proud of each one and commend them for their hard work.  We look forward to watching Coral represent Michigan at the National Competition in April.”

As the state champion, Brantly received a $200 cash award, $500 stipend for her school and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Michigan at the National Poetry Out Loud competition April 27-29, 2015. Kreiner, as runner-up, received a $100 cash award and $200 for his school. All four state finalists received plaques commemorating their achievement. The national champion received a $20,000 college scholarship. The national competition was live-streamed at www.poetryoutloud.org.  The cash awards and scholarships will remain the same for 2015-16.

Poetry Out Loud, a national high school recitation competition, encourages youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, while also mastering public speaking skills, building self-confidence and learning about literary heritage. The program has engaged more than 70,000 students since the Michigan Humanities Council and Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs began hosting it in 2005.


  • Incorporate poetry recitation into curriculum (at teacher’s discretion)
  • Hold school/classroom competition to determine school champion
  • Ensure school champion will attend regional, state and national championships (if selected)
  • Provide school champion’s information to MHC by deadline – January 29, 2016
  • Be prepared to list event dates (classroom discussions and school competition) with attendance numbers
  • Before reimbursements can be distributed following the statewide competition, school surveys must be sent to MHC
  • Full contest rules available in teacher’s guide; hard copies provided to participating teachers

MHC Commitment:

  • Provide a free teacher’s guide to each participating teacher
  • Reimbursement of travel and hotel accommodations for the student, parent and teacher to state finals
  • Each student competing at the State finals will receive a certificate signed by the governor
  • State winner will keep the Poetry Out Loud trophy at their home school for one year. He/she will also receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for a $20,000 scholarship at the national competition
  • State winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books
  • Guidance and support from MHC program officer


The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The runner-up in the state competition will receive $100, along with $200 for his or her school library. Scholarships and school stipends totaling $50,000 will be awarded at the national finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud national champion.

Michigan Poetry Out Loud Champions

  • 2015 Champion: Coral Brantly, Petoskey High School
  • 2014 Champion: Matthew Webb, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
  • 2013 Champion: Richard Wu, Forest Hills Central High School, Grand Rapids
  • 2012 Champion: Randi Laundre, Alba High School, Alba
  • 2011 Champion: Harron Atkins, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
  • 2010 Champion: Lauren Treiber, Forest Hills Central High School, Grand Rapids
  • 2009 Champion: Daniel Bellomy, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
  • 2008 Champion: Charles White, Forest Hills Central High School, Grand Rapids
  • 2007 Champion: Sarah Harris, Holt High School
  • 2006 Champion: Travis Walter, Holt High School

For more information on the national Poetry Out Loud program, visit www.poetryoutloud.org or www.nea.gov.


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