After registering for the program, participating teachers receive Poetry Out Loud curriculum materials, including the online poetry anthology, a comprehensive teacher’s guide, an audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers, two posters, and promotional and media guides. For additional resources and forms go to

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The program starts in the classroom with teachers registering their students to participate. A minimum of two students is required for the official competition.

If you’re a teacher interested in participating in the official N.C. Poetry Out Loud competition, register your school. We will provide all the necessary materials. If you want to facilitate your own, unofficial program, use the NEA’s online materials.

Poetry Out Loud is designed for high school students (grades 9–12) in public, private and home schools. No student may be excluded from participation in this program on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability or national origin. Schools may determine eligibility for classroom and school Poetry Out Loud programs pursuant to local and state law. Under federal law, participation in state competitions and the national finals is restricted to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts in the classroom with a minimum of two students. Classroom winners advance to a school competition, then to a district and state competition, and ultimately to the national finals. Teachers participating in the N.C. competition receive the Poetry Out Loud teacher’s guide which allows them to integrate poetry recitation into their classes and facilitate classroom competitions.

The official Poetry Out Loud program is implemented in schools in fall and early winter. The program does not require full class periods and can be completed in two to three weeks. There are, however, many opportunities to make Poetry Out Loud part of a larger poetry curriculum

Poetry Out Loud provides you with the opportunity to engage your students in the study of great poetry, as well as an innovative way to help them practice their public speaking and reading comprehension skills. After registering for the program, participating teachers receive Poetry Out Loud curriculum materials, including the online poetry anthology, a comprehensive teacher’s guide, a learning recitation DVD featuring distinguished actors and writers, two posters, and promotional and media guides.

“When I began using POL in my classroom, I had a group of 50 at-risk students in a program funded by the Governor’s Crime Commission. All of them chose poems, researched the authors’ lives, memorized their poems, and practiced them alone, with partners, and for the whole class. Every one of my students recited their poems for a panel of judges in the theater for the classroom judging, two of them won top prizes at the school and county competitions, and one went on to compete in the state semi-finals. That was six years ago. POL builds character, strengthens public speaking skills, and gives students academic confidence and insight into the unique beauty that is poetry. I continue to include POL in my yearly planning and coordinate it at the local and county levels because I believe it is a worthwhile, well organized event of which I am honored to be a part.” Amy Krum, South Caldwell High School, Caldwell County

Through participating in Poetry Out Loud, students gain a deep understanding and appreciation of great poetry. In addition, each state winner receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals. The state winner’s school library receives $500 for the purchase of poetry books. The state runner-up receives $100 and the school receives $200 to buy poetry books. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the national finals.

“Poetry Out Loud has really opened my eyes to the world of poetry, both classical and modern. Before the competition I hardly read poetry at all, and now I read it all the time and that has become a favorite pastime of mine. Through the competition I have also met a lot of amazing people and have made awesome friends who I am still keeping in touch with!” Casey Goggin, 2013 N.C. Poetry Out Loud Winner, Pinecrest High School, Moore County.

Participation in Poetry Out Loud is free. Teacher materials are provided at no charge to all participating teachers. However, district winners and their chaperones are responsible for their own transportation, food and lodging costs to the N.C. Poetry Out Loud statewide finals in Greensboro.

For a detailed program timeline visit

1. Register your school to participate by Friday, November 1, 2019. Teacher materials will be mailed to all participating teachers at your school in November.
2. Prepare students and hold classroom competitions (check the NEA’s Poetry Out Loud website for details on how to hold competitions).
3. If more than one teacher from your school wants to participate in the program, determine a school coordinator and hold school competitions.
4. Register school winners for the county competition.
5. Register county winner for state finals.
6. Statewide finals will be held in Greensboro in February 22, 2020. Answers to additional frequently asked questions may be found on the NEA’s website.

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

Other inquiries: Contact Dani Keil, NC Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, at (336) 274-0067, ext. 222 or by email at