Poetry Out Loud

About Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest for high school students, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation. UAH English lecturer, Anna Weber, is coordinator for the thirteen counties in Alabama's region 5 (Limestone, Madison, Jackson, Morgan, Marshall, DeKalb, Cullman, Blount, Etowah, Cherokee, St. Clair, Calhoun, Cleburne). High school students compete in their classrooms and schools, and school winners go on to a free workshop at UAH in October and a regional competition at UAH in November. Regional winners compete for the state championship in Montgomery in February, and the state champion competes at the national competition in Washington, DC in April. There are prizes all along the way, and the national champion wins a $20,000 scholarship.

Teachers must register by September 15 for their classes to participate. These classes may be in any field of study, but most often are from English, Theatre, and Forensics.  The NEA and the Poetry Foundation provide teachers with free, standards-based curriculum materials once their schools register to participate.  Materials include one teacher's guide with sample lesson plans to help instructors teach recitation and performance, and two audio CDs featuring well-known actors and writers such as James Earl Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Alyssa Milano, and N. Scott Momaday. Teachers also get two Poetry Out Loud Anthologies and two Poetry Out Loud posters.  Each participating school gets one instructional DVD for each school participating. The program requires less than two or three weeks of class time. There is no charge to participate.

Upcoming Events

Finding Your Voice Workshop for students, Friday, October 30, 2015, UAH (campus map)

School Winners and their teachers attend an intensive poetry workshop to prepare students for the Regional, State, and National competitions.

Teachers and students pre-register for particular sessions and times, and we plan to have at least three recitation coaches running simultaneous sessions.  Original poetry sessions will run as workshops, with students performing their own poems and workshop leaders and other attendees responding and providing constructive criticism.  Attendees may sit in on all coaching sessions.  


REGION 5 COMPETITION: Friday, November 13, 2015 in Chan Auditorium on the UAH Campus (campus map)

Regional Semi-Finals


  1. Each student memorizes and recites three poems from the Poetry Out Loud anthology: one pre-20th century and one 25 lines or fewer.
  2. In addition to the poems from the anthology, each student is required to write an original poem to recite in the Original Poetry Competition.
  3. The top three winners from both the National Poetry Out Loud competition and the Original Poetry competition will move forward to the State Finals. The Huntsville Literary Association will again award $100 for first prize in each contest, and we have asked for UAH Scholarship money as well.
  4. Winners will be invited to attend an intensive coaching session in January to prepare them for the State Finals. 

About Poetry Out Loud