One of our favorite things about August and September, along with the start of rehearsal, the start of school, and the start of cooler weather (even if only for a day or two) is the opening of registration for the Poetry Out Loud program. We are proud to serve as the host organization for this program, a national poetry recitation competition sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. This program places strong emphasis on the power of language and the power of student voices interacting with literature to explore and expand the meanings of classic and contemporary texts.
Registration for the program is NOW OPEN, so, if you are a high school teacher who wants to involve your students in an exciting arts-based experience, find out how here!
So what is Poetry Out Loud anyway?
Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation competition for high school students. Participants select several poems from a diverse array of options (everything from Maya Angelou to Robert Frost to Edgar Allen Poe to Emily Brontë), analyze the poems’ meaning, make physical and vocal choices about how best to convey their interpretation of the poems, and recite their poems for audiences and judges. Students compete at the classroom, school, and county levels, then some advance to the state semi-finals and finals, and the state champion advances to the national semi-finals in Washington, D.C.
Is that really interesting to high school students?
Yes! Last year alone, nearly 6,000 North Carolina high school students participated in Poetry Out Loud. Some of the students from 2017-2018 had the following thoughts to share about their experience:
“[I enjoyed] putting myself outside of my comfort zone and finding something that I am good at and that I enjoy. I also liked the process of choosing and analyzing poems in order to find one I can relate with.”
“It’s great to be able to learn more about poets and poetry, and to share both their work and my own with people who like poetry already, as well as with those who might not be as into it, putting it into a new, interesting medium for the latter. It’s awesome to be able to entertain people, cause them to feel a certain way or think through words and performance.”
“It’s not as stressful as it seems– do the poem the way you’ve interpreted it and think it should be done, as long as it’s not completely unruly or ridiculous. Besides, it’s less about competition and more about keeping poetry alive and thriving as an art.”
I’m a teacher, and that sounds great, but also sounds like a lot of work. How hard is it to put the program in place?
Great question! Poetry Out Loud is designed to fit within classroom curriculum there are lots of suggestions for how to integrate poetry into English/Language Arts. In fact, the NEA has a whole webpage devoted this topic (you can find it here) The program does not require full class periods, and can usually be accomplished in 2-3 weeks. There are some additional responsibilities for setting up classroom and school competitions, and there is lots of support available from NEA resources and the state coordinator to make this process as stress-free as possible!
How much does it cost?
One of the great things about Poetry Out Loud is that it’s FREE for students and schools to participate.
How can I get involved?
If you are a classroom teacher, you can register here. If you are a student or parent, you can reach out to an English or Drama teacher at your school, explain why you’re excited about the program, and work with the teacher to get your school on board. If you are a homeschool student or parent, you can contact the state coordinator at email@example.com to get more information about how you can participate.
If you are not affiliated with a school or homeschool program, we would love to have you join us for the state final competition at Triad Stage on Saturday, February 16th. More information about specific times will be available in the coming months. There may also be volunteer opportunities available for this exciting event!
What if I have more questions?
Feel free to email the state coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org!