Welcome to Poetry Out Loud!

Elizabeth Lilly, Norfolk Academy
Don Mears, Photographer

In 2016, 8,000 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. Dr. David Kidd, a Norfolk Academy teacher stated “Poetry Out Loud is such a great program because it really forces students to read deeply into poetry and to think about how every syllable can be shot through with meaning.”

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with Virginia Commission for the Arts to present Poetry Out Loud. 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.

Ben Elliott, Grace Christian School
Don Mears, Photographer

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 classroom contest with winners advancing to school level, regional and then possible the state finals.

VCA Executive Director, Margaret Vanderhye, stated, “ We are pleased to be working once again with the Virginia Education Association and Community Idea Stations WCVE to showcase Poetry Out Loud and the talented high school students who participate in it. To see these young people express their understanding of poetry through the connections with audiences that our partners make possible across the state elevates the arts for all of us.” Twelve students from across the Commonwealth advanced to the state championship, which took place on March 18, 2016. Broadcast dates are listed below.

2016 Virginia Poetry Out Loud State Finals Photo Album


Each winner at the state level receives a $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 receives $100 with $200 for his/her school library.

Poetry Out Loud Calendar

WCVE Richmond PBS

Monday, April 18

9:00 pm - 10:30 pm

WCVE Richmond PBS

Sunday, April 24

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

WHTJ Charlottesville PBS

Monday,  April 18

9:00 pm -10:30 pm

WHTJ Charlottesville PBS

Sunday, April 24

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

WVPT Harrisonburg PBS

Sunday, April 10

9:30 am – 11:00 pm


Sunday, April 10

8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Poetry Out Loud National Finals
Lisner Auditorium, Washington, DC

May 3 and May 4

Live webcast at


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