Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide contest that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and recitation. During the 2015-2016 school year, more than 7,000 students from a record 43 high schools participated in Poetry Out Loud in Connecticut.


Please join us as we recognize the efforts of these 40 talented school champions!

Date: March 4, 2017

Location: Cheney Hall, 177 Hartford Rd, Manchester, CT 06040

Time: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 pm.

Admission: Free and no tickets are required.

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


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Students who participate in Poetry Out Loud practice public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Connecticut high schools can participate in classroom and school-wide poetry contests during the 2016-17 academic year, with the winners advancing to a state competition on March 4, 2017 at Cheney Hall in Manchester. The Connecticut State Champion will advance to the National Finals, which will take place April 24-26, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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.

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.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Connecticut Office of the Arts, produced in partnership with Connecticut Humanities, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.



To participate in Poetry Out Loud, schools must submit an online registration form (http://bit.ly/POLCT17) no later than October 14, 2016.

By registering your school for Poetry Out Loud, you indicate your school’s commitment to conducting the program and identifying a lead teacher and backup teacher for all correspondence with Poetry Out Loud state coordinators.

Registered schools are eligible to participate in:

• teacher workshops
• teaching artist classroom visits
• student coaching sessions
• the statewide finals competition

Questions? Email program manager Scott Wands at POL@cthumanities.org or 860-685-7579.

September 28, 2016 Teacher PD Workshop, Fairfield Museum, Fairfield
October 5, 2016 Teacher PD Workshop, Cheney Hall, Manchester
October 14, 2016 Deadline for School Registration
October, November
& December
Teaching Artists in the Schools Workshops
January 15, 2017 Deadline to submit school champion name to Connecticut Humanities
February 1, 2017 Deadline to register for School Champion Workshop
February 8, 2017 School Champion Workshop at Cheney Hall, Manchester
March 4, 2017 Connecticut State Finals, Cheney Hall, Manchester
April 24-26, 2017 National Poetry Out Loud Championship in Washington, DC

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Adriane Jefferson :

Adriane Jefferson

Adriane Jefferson is the Program Director and Senior Director of Writer’s Block Ink in New London, an organization she co-founded in 2003. She received a B.A in Popular Music from Florida Memorial University in Miami and a Master of Arts Degree in Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art and Design. Once a performer herself, Adriane has a niche for spotting and developing talent in the arts. She has worked as the Drama Instructor at Alonzo Mourning Charities, and as Drama Department Head at The Gibson Charter School in Miami. Adriane is also the proud mother a 3-year-old daughter.

WEBSITE: http://www.writersblockink.org/

Kate Rushin :

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

Mariah Sage :

Mariah Sage

Mariah 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 :

John Stanizzi

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/

Attallah Sheppard :

Attallah Sheppard

Attallah Sheppard is a passionate spoken word poet hailing from in New London, CT. She is one of the founding members of Writer’s Block Ink, an educational arts non-profit dedicated to cultivating youth voice and igniting social change on the page and stage. She is the 2007 Connecticut Poetry Out Loud State Champion and a 2013 graduate of Howard University with a degree in Business Administration. Attallah is a Teaching Artist with the Connecticut Writing Project of Fairfield University and performs her poetry professionally throughout the states. Attallah teaches at Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven, CT.

Elizabeth Thomas :

Elizabeth Thomas

Elizabeth 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/

Ameen-Storm Abo-Hamzy :

Ameen-Storm Abo-Hamzy

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



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

In addition, the Connecticut Office of the Arts and Connecticut Humanities provide free, professional development workshops for teachers and opportunities for students to work with professional poets and performance coaches in the classroom.

At the top of this post, watch a four-minute overview of Poetry Out Loud in action in Connecticut filmed during the 2015-16 school year.

Questions? Email program manager Scott Wands at POL@cthumanities.org or 860-685-7579

Amistad High School
Arts at the Capitol Theater Magnet School
Avon High School
Bacon Academy
Bethel High School
Bolton High School
Branford High School
Choate Rosemary Hall
Classical Magnet School
Danbury High School
Darien High School
East Windsor High School
Farmington High School
Granby Memorial High School
Greens Farms Academy
Greenwich High School
Hamden High School
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy
Joel Barlow High School
Joseph A. Foran High School
Lewis S. Mills High School
Litchfield High School
Manchester High School
Mercy High School
Middletown High School
Montville High School
Naugatuck High School
New Milford High School
Newtown High School
Northwestern Regional High School
Old Saybrook High School
Orville H. Platt High School
Oxford High School
Pomperaug High School
Renbrook School
RHAM High School
Ridgefield High School
Rockville High School
Stafford High School
Staples High School
Two Rivers Magnet High School
University High School of Science
and Engineering
Waterford High School
Watertown High School
Westhill High School
Wheeler High School
Wilby High School
Wilton High School
Windsor High School

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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


* = State Finalist

** = 2016 CT State Champion

*** = 2016 CT Runner Up & 2015 CT State Champion




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