Our Stories, Our Lives

Poetry Out Loud

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 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.

Lead Teacher & School Champion Resources

2017–18 Schedule (subject to revision):

  • September 2017 to January 2018: Schools incorporate Poetry Out Loud into curriculum, hold school competitions.
  • Dec. 1, 2017: Application deadline for interested schools.
  • January 26, 2018: Deadline to submit winning student.
  • March 1–2, 2018: State Finals, Crowne Plaza, Lansing.
  • April 23–25, 2018: National Finals, Washington, D.C.


  • Incorporate poetry recitation into curriculum (at teacher’s discretion) – Fall 2017
  • 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, 2018
  • 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.

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

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Poetry Foundation.






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