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Poetry Out Loud

You’re invited to join other high schools in Pennsylvania and across the country for Poetry Out Loud, the annual national recitation contest for students.

POL 2015-16 Logo 150Poetry Out Loud is a completely free program that encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

The ArtsPath POL region comprises five counties—Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson—and the DuBois Area School District. Your high school’s champion will participate in the ArtsPath regional finals, and the ArtsPath regional champion will travel expense free to Harrisburg for the state finals. The state champion will also travel expense free to Washington, D.C. for the national finals.

Our regional final will be held Monday, February 15, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. in the Upper Grand Lobby of the Performing Arts Center at IUP. The snow date is Wednesday, February 17, at the same time and location.

Register your school by completing the Registration Form and returning it by Friday, January 15. For additional information on the ArtsPath regional or Pennsylvania state contests, download a Teacher's Email Packet.

Governor Ed Rendell and 2009 Winner Molly Stoltz

Molly Stoltz, pictured here with Governor Ed Rendell, was the 2009 ArtsPath regional winner. From DuBois Area High School, Stoltz also won at the state level and went on to represent Pennsylvania in Washington, D.C.

For more information on Poetry Out Loud, visit the comprehensive POL website, call Jeff Wacker at 724-357-2787 (ARTS), or e-mail us at

About Poetry Out Loud

  • POL satisfies more than half of the NCTE English Language Arts Standards, as well as at least three Anchor Assessments per the PA Common Core ELA Standards: Speaking and Listening (SL 9-10, SL 12-11), Reading (FL 9-10, RL 11-12), and Language (L9-10, L 11-12).
  • The teachers’ guide suggests ways to customize the program to meet your schedule constraints.
  • Free, standards-based curriculum materials are available for schools, teachers, and students. Teachers receive a guide to help them teach recitation and performance, a CD of distinguished actors and writers reciting and talking about poetry, media guides, and promotional materials.
  • Teachers also have access to the POL website which includes all materials, including all support materials, poems, media guides, and more.

Getting Your School Involved

Individual or groups of teachers, a school club, or the entire school may participate. Teachers can determine the extent of their participation. For example, they may...

  • Incorporate POL into a unit of study, perhaps culminating in recitations by each student in front of the class;
  • Offer the program as an extra credit project or after-school program’s project; or
  • Use some or all of the lesson plans offered online or in the free teacher’s guide.

Whatever you plan, the end result should be one winner from your school who will participate in the regional contest in February.

What Must Students Do?

  • Choose poems from the more than 750 eligible poems at the POL website to memorize and recite for a class and then school competition.
  • Recitations may not include properties, costumes, or music.
  • Some gestures and minimal movement may, however, be appropriate to a given poem. Be sure to study the recitation guidelines found online or in the Teacher’s Guide.

NEW — Judging Category Changes

For teachers who have participated in the past, please note that there have been some significant changes to the judging categories. First, the “Level of Complexity” category has been completely removed. There are now five categories: Physical Presence, Voice and Articulation, Dramatic Appropriateness, Evidence of Understanding, and Overall Performance.

Second, there has been additional guidance and descriptive language added to the categories of Dramatic Appropriateness and the Overall Performance.

Be sure to read through the entire Evaluation Criteria in your Poetry Out Loud Teacher’s Guide, or available from the Poetry Out Loud website.

Your School’s Winner

Each school’s winner will then participate in the regional contest scheduled for Monday, February 15, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. in the Upper Grand Lobby of the Performing Arts Center on the IUP campus. In case of inclement weather, an alternate date of Wednesday, February 17, at 6:30 p.m. has been set. Directions and a map of the campus are available.

  • Participants will prepare three poems to recite.
  • The ArtsPath regional winner will compete with 13 other regional champions in the state competition on Monday, March 9, 2016, in Harrisburg. The location has yet to be announced, although we expect it to be the Governor’s residence as it has been in previous years.
  • The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expense paid trip with a chaperone to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship, held May 2–4 in Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University. The winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books. A runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for the school to purchase poetry books.

Logo: Pennsylvania Council on the ArtsThis program is made possible through the AIE Partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. It is funded by the citizens of Pennsylvania through an annual legislative appropriation and administered regionally by ArtsPath through the College of Fine Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is additionally supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

  • ArtsPath
  • Performing Arts Center, Room 202
    403 South Eleventh Street
    Indiana, PA 15705-1008
  • Phone: 724-357-4565
  • Fax: 724-357-7899
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.