Our Stories, Our Lives

Poetry Out Loud

2014-15 Schedule

  • March 12-13, 2015: State Finals, Dart Auditorium, Lansing Community CollegeStudent Places
    • March 12: Dinner and evening event for participants
    • March 13:
      • Round 1: 9:00 am
      • Round 2: 12:30 pm
      • Poet Performance 2:30 pm
      • Kinetic Affect
      • Round 3: 3:00 pm
  • April 27-29, 2015: National Finals, Washington, D.C.
  • May 7-9, 2015: Michigan Youth Arts Festival, Kalamazoo.

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.

2014 State Competition Results

On March 14, 35 school champions from around the state met in East Lansing for the Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Competitions. After three rounds of poetry recitation, it was Matthew Webb, a senior from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, taking home the top honors.

As champion, Webb received $200 and a $500 award for his school. First runner-up was Cal Kreiner of Wellspring Preparatory High School (Grand Rapids). He received $100 and a $200 award for his school. Second runner-up was James McConnell of Petoskey High School, and third runner-up was Ejiro Enajero of the Detroit School of Arts.

As the state champion, Webb represented Michigan at the National Poetry Out Loud Competition April 29-30, 2014 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. One of 53 students in the national competition, Webb competed against 17 students in the Region 2 Semifinal Round on April 29 and ultimately earned Honorable Mention (4th place) within the round. His title earned him a $1,000 cash award a $500 award for his school to purchase new poetry books.

Application and Teacher Resources


  • 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
  • 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
  • The four finalists will receive scholarships to participate in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, and are encouraged to attend on behalf of MHC

MHC Commitment:

  • Provide free curriculum material to teachers, including a teacher’s guide, CD and poetry anthologies
  • Reimbursement of travel and hotel accomodations for the student, parent and teacher to state finals
  • Each student 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
  • Miscellaneous items such as Poetry Out Loud t-shirt and other take-homes (dependent on funds)
  • 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. All Michigan finalists are awarded a scholarship for participation in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, on behalf of the Council.

Michigan Poetry Out Loud Champions

  • 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.


119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 3B,
Lansing, MI 48912
p: 517-372-7770
f: 517-372-0027