Welcome to Poetry Out Loud!

2015 Poetry Out Loud documentary produced by WCVE-The Community Idea Station, Richmond, VA

In its 10th anniversary year, over 10,800 high school students across Virginia delved into great classical and contemporary works of poetry revisiting the arts of recitation and memorization through Poetry Out Loud. This national program encourages students to learn poetry through performance, public speaking, and memorization. Brandon Gonzalez, a 12th grader at Colonial Forge High School (Stafford), and Poetry Out Loud participant said, “Each poem has its own unique interpretation. The beauty of reciting poetry is that every person has to discover what the poem is saying to them.”

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with Virginia Commission for the Arts to present Poetry Out Loud.  Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry- recitation and performance.  The program builds on a resurgence of poetry as an oral art form and incorporates the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word and theatre to help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

About the Program

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure beginning at the high school classroom level where teachers implement a two-to-three week curriculum using free, standards-based materials including print and online poetry anthologies containing more than 600 classic and contemporary poems. Poetry Out Loud does not require full class periods.  Classroom studies culminate with a contest in which each student selects and recites a poem.  Classroom winners advance to school-wide recitation competitions, school champions advance to regional and state competitions.

This year VCA partnered with The Community Idea Station WCVE and the Virginia Education Association (VEA) to record and broadcast The Virginia Finals. Eleven students from across the Commonwealth advanced to the state championship, which took place on March 13th,2015.  The Virginia Finals can be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k-61wsQIzA.

For more information about the regional and state competitions visit the Champion Spotlight 2015 page.


Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington to compete for the national championship.  The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.  The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library.  A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals. 

Poetry Out Loud Calendar

Final School Report & Regional Competitor Registration, HERE. Friday, December 11, 2015
Region 1 Competition - Emory and Henry College McGlothlin Center for the Arts, Abingdon Friday, Jan. 29, 2016
1:00 - 3:00 pm
Region 3 Competition - Wayne Theatre, Waynesboro Friday, Feb. 26, 2016
1:00 –3:00 pm
Region 4a Competition - Signature Theatre, Arlington Friday, January 22, 2016
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Region 4b Competition - The Art Center at the Candy Factory,  Manassas Friday, February 5, 2016
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Region 5 Competition - Center Stage, Richmond Friday, February 19, 2016
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Region 6 Competition - Crispus Attucks Cultural Center, Norfolk Wednesday, February 10, 2016
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Virginia Poetry Out Loud State Finals WCVE - The Community Idea Station, Richmond, VA Friday, March 18, 2016
1:00 – 4:00 pm
Poetry Out Loud National Finals Washington, DC May 2 – 4, 2016


For any questions related to participation in the official Poetry Out Loud Program contact:

Casey Polczynski
Arts in Education Coordinator
Virginia Commission for the Arts

More Information