Poetry Out Loud

POL-Logo-BannerPoetry Out Loud is a nationwide contest that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Students who participate in Poetry Out Loud practice public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

To learn more about Poetry Out Loud, click on the tabs below.

Owen_tbnBecause in that moment when you’re up on that stage, at that microphone, looking out over your audience, you have three things that mean way more than whatever the judges are going to put down on your score sheets: you have people’s attention; you have the words of a poem; and you have the chance to make those words come alive through you and in the minds of others.

Owen Elphick
2015 POL Connecticut State Champion


Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide contest that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Students who participate in Poetry Out Loud practice public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Benefits of Poetry Out Loud to your school include:

  • Skill building for your students.
  • Free professional development workshops for teachers and library-media specialists.
  • Free workshops for students with professional poets and performance coaches.
  • Involvement in a statewide and nationwide program.
  • Prizes! Cash prizes, trophies and public recognition for your students and school.

Teachers customize the Poetry Out Loud program to best fit their school. Poetry Out Loud can be used in the classroom or as an extracurricular activity.

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.


October, November
& December
Teaching Artists in the Schools Workshops
February 4, 2016 Deadline to register for School Champion Workshop
February 9, 2016 School Champion Workshop at Central Connecticut State University
February 23, 2016
2:00 pm
Western Regional Semi-finals
Palace Theater
100 Main St.
March 1, 2016
3:00 pm
Eastern Regional Semi-finals
Cheney Hall
177 Hartford Road
March 15, 2016
3:00 pm
Connecticut State Finals
Torp Theater
Central Connecticut State University
1615 Stanley St.
New Britain
May 2-4 2016 National Poetry Out Loud Championship in Washington, DC


 “I was thrilled to see the seriousness of the performances and the sure grasp of the nuanced meanings of the poems. Hearing poems performed so ably renewed my faith in the value of poetry.

Marilyn Nelson
Former CT Poet Laureate and 2015 POL Judge

Kate Rushin

Kate Rushin is an award-winning, CT poet/educator with training in theater and radio.  She has taught at Wesleyan University, The Oddfellows Youth Playhouse and The Greater Hartford Academy of The Arts where she was dramaturge for the production of “A Raisin in the Sun.”  Rushin has featured, twice, at The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival at The Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, where she is also an artist/instructor in The Hartford Poetry Outreach Program.  Rushin serves on The James Merrill House Committee in Stonington, CT, and has twice served as judge for CT Poetry Out Loud.
WEBSITE: http://katerushinpoet.com

MSage_100x150Mariah Sage is a professional actor and acting coach with twenty years of experience in performance. Mariah has taught acting and coached actors and presenters at the college level for years, including: Brown University, NYU/Tisch, and Hartford Stage.  She served as Director of the Theatre Program at Fairfield University, where she assisted professional guest directors on casting. In 2007, Mariah Co-Founded the professional theatre company, Theatre 4, in New Haven.  Mariah lives in New Haven with her husband and their young son. She also teaches acting and presentation skills to groups and individuals through her company Present & Perform. Mariah earned a BFA in drama at NYU/Tisch and an MFA in acting from Brown University.
WEBSITE: http://www.presentandperform.com/


John Stanizzi has delighted readers and listeners throughout New England and beyond the Northeast. He is the author of “Ecstasy Among Ghosts”, “Sleepwalking”, “Windows”, and “Dance Against the Wall”. His poetry has appeared in many publications. He has read at many venues throughout Connecticut. John has judged the Connecticut Poetry Out Loud Program, the 2011 Connecticut Book Award for Poetry, and the Sunken Garden Poetry Award for Adult Writers. He teaches English at Manchester Community College and Bacon Academy, where he also directed theater program for fifteen years.
WEBSITE: http://johnlstanizzi.com/

EThomas_100x150Elizabeth Thomas is a widely published poet, performer and educator. The author of two poetry collections and a book on writing, she has read her work throughout the United States and in 2009 taught ‘Poetry as Theatre’ in the United Arab Emirates at a women’s university. Much of her energy and time is devoted to designing and teaching writing programs for all ages. These programs promote literacy and the power of written and spoken word. As an outstanding advocate of youth in the arts, Elizabeth is a coach and organizer with Brave New Voices: International Youth Poetry Slam and Festival. She believes poetry is meant to be heard out loud and in person. (Only available in early December)
WEBSITE: http://upwordspoetry.com/

Born in Torrington, Connecticut, Ameen-Storm Abo-Hamzy (which translates as trustworthy) and his family lived in Beirut until the cruel reality of war in the Middle East forced them to return to their home in Connecticut. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in the United States Army (Airborne) and served until he was injured in the line of duty and honorably discharged.  In 2003 he graduated with his Masters from Wesleyan University.  Evolution Ink, a not for profit organization founded by Ameen is dedicated to the proposition of peace as a realistic expectation.  Evolution Ink sponsors the Poetry Is Music© summer festival every year. He has been featured in articles in The New York Times, The Litchfield County Times, The Lakeville Journal, The Voice, and The Republican-American and in a host of local newspapers.

Email: ameenstorm_at_mac.com or ameen.storm_at_gmail.com

“Many students who’ve never given poetry a second thought or who shy away from public speaking now carry a poem in their hearts and a bit more confidence on stage.  Poetry Out Loud brings poetry alive for our students!

Denise Abercrombie
Teacher at E. O. Smith High School


PoetryOutLoud.org offers a great collection of teacher resources, including:

Teachers Guide
Tips for conducting Poetry Out Loud
Lesson plans and sample class schedules
Accessibility Information
NCTE Standards






A. E. Burr Community School
Bacon Academy
Bethel High School
Bolton High School
Branford High School
Choate Rosemary Hall
Classical Magnet School
CT River Academy
Coventry High School
Darien High School
E. O. Smith High School
East Catholic High School
East Windsor High School
Farmington High School
Foran High School
Greens Farms Academy
Greenwich High School
Hamden High School
Hartford Magnet Trinity Coll. Acad.
Joel Barlow High School
Lewis S. Mills High School Region 10

Mercy High School
Montville High Schools
Naugatuck High School
New Lond High School
New Milford High School
Newtown High School
Northwestern Regional High School
Oxford High School
Pomperaug High School
RHAM High School
Ridgefield High School
Rockville High School
Stafford High School
Staples High School
The Renbrook School
Waterford High School
Watertown High School
Westhill High School
Wheeler High School
Wilby High School
Wilton High School
Windsor High School


Ben_smI hope [the audience] takes away the joy that I felt in memorizing these poems. I hope they felt some of the emotions I felt reciting them. And I hope there’s something for THEM to remember in these poems.

Benjamin Harlee Classical Magnet School Champ, 2014

POL Eastern Regional Finals Champions
Cheney Hall, Manchester
March 1, 2016

Lauren Hickey
Bacon Academy (Colchester)

Lexi Frame
Bolton High School

Adam Jackson
Branford High School

Neo Valentin
Classical Magnet High School (Hartford)

Kaleen Peterson
Coventry High School

Gabriela Resto
East Windsor High School

Owen Elphick
E.O. Smith High School (Storrs)

Pearl Liu
Farmington High School

Brynnen Bernstein
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (Hartford)

Olivia Hawk
Mercy High School (Middletown)

Dominic Bellido
Renbrook School (Hartford)

Emily Saunders
RHAM High School (Hebron)

Winona Scheff
Rockville High School

Nathan Fish
Stafford High School

Kaitlyn Mangelinkx
Waterford High School

Tyler DiBrino
Wheeler High School (Stonington)

Elena Peters
Windsor High School

POL Western Regional Finals Champions
The Palace Theater, Waterbury
February 23, 2016

Shami Koshabo
Bethel High School

Lauren Lamb
Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford)

Kristen Moran
Darien High School

Anisa Anuar
Engineering Science University Magnet School

Gabrielle Woodward
Foran High School (Milford)

Raena Greenbaum
Greenwich High School

Ed Lorsin
Hamden High School

Nicole Kearney
Joel Barlow High School (Redding)

Hanako Agresta
Lewis S. Mills High School (Burlington)

Adiana Alejandro
Naugatuck High School

Elizabeth Schlyer
New Milford High School

Melissa Shohet
Newtown High School

Xavier Duncan
Northwestern Regional High School

Brooke Van Buiten
Oxford High School

Kathleen Stango
Pomperaug High School (Southbury)

Vivian Altopp
Ridgefield High School

Renee Weisz
Staples High School (Westport)

Samantha Cross
Watertown High School

Nastasja Haughton
Westhill High School (Stamford)

Isaias Ruiz
Wilby High School (Waterbury)

Trevor Lilly
Wilton High School




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