For Poetry Out Loud Inquiries

Katie Wittenauer
Director of Programs

kwittenauer “at”
or call 517-372-7770

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Poetry Out Loud

What is Poetry Out Loud?

Poetry Out Loud (POL) 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. Michigan’s 2019 POL State Finals were held on March 1 and 2. You can read more about this year’s State Finals and new champion, Tajah-Rayne Davise, in the Michigan Humanities news section.

Each year, the state champion advances to the national finals in Washington, D.C. and competes for a $20,000 college scholarship.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of Michigan Humanities (MH), Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Poetry Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Additional support is generously provided by Meijer and the Liesel Litzenburger Meijer Fund.



How do I participate in Poetry Out Loud?

  • Registration: Registration for the 2019-20 POL program will open in late summer 2019. Please direct all eligibility and program questions to Katie Wittenauer via phone (517-372-7770) or email.
  • Notification: Schools will receive official notification within one week of completing the registration process. Program resources will be distributed on a rolling basis.
  • Multiple Classrooms: Multiple classrooms are encouraged to participate at each school. Schools must identify a lead teacher, who will complete the application. Submit one application per school.
  • Eligibility: All Michigan high schools are eligible to participate. Homeschooled students may participate by competing in a contest at a local school (at the school’s discretion) or with other local homeschooled students. Student eligibility is detailed in the teacher’s guide and on the POL website.


The state champion receives a $1200 cash award, $1500 stipend for their school, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to represent Michigan at the national competition April 29 through May 1, 2019. The first runner-up will receive $600, with $700 for their school. The second runner-up will receive $200, with $200 for their school. The third runner-up will receive $100, with $100 for their school. Student and school prizes at the state level are funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Liesel Litzenburger Meijer Fund.

School Partner Expectations

  • Incorporate poetry recitation into curriculum (at teacher’s discretion) during fall and winter 2019-20
  • Hold classroom and school competitions to determine school champion
  • Ensure school champion will attend state and national championships (if selected)
  • Provide school champion’s information to MH by deadline
  • Be prepared to report expenses, dates (teaching and competitions), and attendance numbers
  • NOTE: Before reimbursements can be distributed following the statewide competition, school surveys must be sent to MH
  • Full contest rules are available in the POL teacher’s guide. Hard copies are provided to participating teachers and available online.

Lead Teacher Resources

MH Commitment

  • Provide a POL teacher’s guide to each participating teacher
  • Provide a fuel stipend (for students, parent(s), and teachers traveling 100 or more miles round trip) and lodging costs for the student, parent(s), and teacher traveling to the state finals event (reimbursement for one night at the event hotel for up to two rooms per school)
  • Provide State Champion with the Poetry Out Loud traveling trophy, to be kept at their school for one year. She/he will also receive a minimum award of $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for a $20,000 scholarship at the national competition.
  • Provide poetry programming opportunities and offer POL support via MH and Katie Wittenauer, Director of Programs

Social Media

Get updates, post questions, and share your photos via the MH accounts below and with #MIHumanities, #MIPoetryOutLoud, and #IamPoetryOutLoud.

Michigan Poetry Out Loud Sponsors

Michigan Poetry Out Loud Sponsors