About the program

Poetry Out Loud is a national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps high school students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Students have the opportunity to compete at classroom, school, district, state, and national levels for cash prizes and money for their schools to purchase poetry books. 

Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Through the program, students can master public speaking skills, increase reading comprehension scores, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Poetry Out Loud has inspired thousands of high school students to discover and develop deep, personal relationships with great classic and contemporary poetry.

The N.C. Arts Council and Children's Theatre of Charlotte, the host of North Carolina's Poetry Out Loud state competition, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, invite N.C. students to participate in the program to gain a deeper appreciation of great poetry through memorization and recitation. The program starts in the classroom, broadens to the state level and culminates at the national finals in Washington, D.C.

While teachers, students and poetry lovers everywhere can use the NEA’s Poetry Out Loud website and free materials to organize their own contests, the official POL contest is limited to the programs run by each state’s arts agency. If you are a teacher interested in participating in the official N.C. program, contact Children's Theatre of Charlotte at pol@ctcharlotte.org.

Prizes at State & National Finals

State Finals

  • $200 for POL State Champion
  • $100 for POL State Runner-Up
  • $500 stipend for state champion school/organization
  • $200 stipend for poetry materials for runner-up

National Finals

  • $20,000 for POL National Champion
  • $10,000 and $5,000 for the second and third-place national finalists
  • $1,000 each for the other six national finalists and for three honorable mention recipients
  • $500 stipend for schools/organizations of top nine finalists and three honorable mention recipients to purchase poetry materials

Important dates

  • Tuesday, September 5, 2023: Registration opens. 
    • Information on rules & eligibility
    • Register on Charlotte Children's Theatre's Poetry Out Loud page. Look for the "Register" button near the bottom of the page. 
  • Friday, November 10, 2023: Registration closes.
  • December 2023 - January 2024: County competitions.
  • Saturday, February 24, 2024: North Carolina Regional and Final competitions at ImaginOn in Charlotte.
  • April 30 - May 2, 2024: Poetry Out Loud National Final Competition in Washington DC.


Further information, including poems eligible for the competition, lesson plans and competition rules can be found at www.poetryoutloud.org.

Register for Poetry Out Loud

Children's Theatre of Charlotte