How it Works

Poetry Out Loud is a free national program that encourages the nation's youth to learn about great works of classic and contemporary poetry through memorization and recitation. 

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts with classroom contests between September and January that is coordinated by the schools and teachers. Winners advance to a school-wide competition. Sometimes, because of the size nubmer of students participating, schools can opt out of the classroom competition. The school-wide champion then competes at a Regional Final (the Eastern Illinois regional contest is coordinated by 40 North | 88 West). The top 2 students from each Regional win trips to Springfield to compete at the State Final. Ultimately, 1 student from each state competes at the National Finals in Washington, D.C. At the state and national levels, students stand to win prize money and scholarships, as well as funds for their schools to use for poetry curriculum materials.

Partcipating teachers receive the print and online poetry anthologies, a comprehensive teacher’s guide, an audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers, a DVD of National Finals performances, and promotional and media guides. Hard copies of all materials are free for teachers participating in the official program. 

40 North will coordinate the logistics of the regional contests so that teachers may concentrate on preparing students. 

Important events for the school year
Deadline for teachers to sign up (January)
Regional contest (February)
State contest (March)
National contest (April)

Want to be a judge? Contact Kelly at and download the Judge's quide.

Poetry Out Loud is a 100% FREE program, there are no costs to teachers, schools, or students wishing to participate. All official Poetry Out Loud materials are provided, and cooresponding travel expenses will be covered or reimbursed at request.

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