Poetry Out Loud

“We need math, science, engineering and technology to compete in the world econo­my, but we also need poetry to make the lives we live richer, deeper and ever open to new interpretations.”

Nancy Weiss
Poetry Out Loud Judge and CTH Board Member

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a nationwide contest for high school students that encourages them to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Students who participate in Poetry Out Loud master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The program satisfies more than half of the NCTE English Language Arts Standards.

The Connecticut Center for the Book at Connecticut Humanities is pleased to coordinate the program in Connecticut. Participation is free and open to all accredited Connecticut high schools.

The Poetry Out Loud contest starts at the classroom level with winners advancing to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. 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.

Schools sign up to participate in Poetry Out Loud in the fall. We provide schools with onsite workshops with experienced teaching artists on a first come, first served basis. Teachers receive a free professional development workshop to show them how to incorporate Poetry Out Loud into their curriculum, as well as resources such as a database of poems, a resource guide, videos and more. Student winners at the school level can also attend a free full-day workshop to prepare for state finals.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the Connecticut Center for the Book at Connecticut Humanities, the Connecticut Office of the Arts at Department of Economic and Community Development, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.


Question? Need for information? Contact Rachel at 860.685.7590.


Deadline for schools to sign up to participate
Professional development workshop for teachers


Deadline for teachers to request a teaching artist

November –January

Teaching artists visit schools
Teachers conduct POL activities in classrooms
School contests/School champions identified


Deadline to submit School Champion names for state finals
School Champion workshop


Connecticut State Finals


National Finals in Washington, D.C.1`

The sign up date for schools to join the 2013/2014 Poetry Out Loud contest is past. Sign up is generally in October. If you would like to be to be notified of next year’s sign up deadline, subscribe to our email newsletter.

Participating Schools

These schools are sending their school champions to the 2014 state finals on March 12th for a chance to represent Connecticut at the national finals in Washington, DC.

Avon High School
Bacon Academy (Colchester)
Bethel High School
Bolton High School
Branford High School
Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford)
Darien High School
E. O. Smith High School (Storrs)
East Windsor High School
Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School (Hartford)
Greenwich High School
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy
Hamden High School
Immaculate High School (Danbury)
Joel Barlow High School (Redding)

Medical Professions and Teacher Prep. Academy (Windsor)
Mercy High School (Middletown)
Montville High School
Naugatuck High School
Northwestern High School (Winsted)
Oxford High School
Regional School District 10 (Burlington)
Ridgefield High School
Rockville High School
Somers High School
Staples High School (Westport)
The Renbrook School (West Hartford)
University High School of Science and Engineering (Hartford)
Wilton High School
Windsor High School

Join us for the 9th Annual Connecticut State Finals!

With Master of Ceremonies Ravi Shankar

Thirty one Connecticut students have practiced and competed for months to win their school championships. Now, they’re bringing poems to life for a chance to represent Connecticut at the National Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, DC.

Show your support for these school champs and enjoy an inspirational day full of Poetry Out Loud.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 3 pm
(Snow date March 13)

Torp Theater
Central Connecticut State University
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT

Your RSVP to is appreciated but not required.

For more information, please call 860-685-7599.