NC High School Students Compete in Statewide Poetry Out Loud Competition

Raleigh, N.C. (February 18) — North Carolina high school students from 26 districts across the state will take the stage on Saturday, March 3, in Greensboro, to compete in the annual statewide Poetry Out Loud competition

More than 75 schools participated in Poetry Out Loud with classroom lessons, classroom competitions, and district competitions beginning early last fall. Students from these schools vied to make it to the state semi-finals and finals. The state winner will advance to the national Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, D.C. on April 23.

Poetry Out Loud is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and coordinated by Triad Stage on behalf of the North Carolina Arts Council. The competition brings together students with an interest in poetry, spoken word, theater, as well as students just discovering the power of recitation.

“Poetry Out Loud gives kids the chance to practice creativity by utilizing the dynamic aspects of poetry, spoken word, and theater in high school classrooms,” said Sharon Hill, Arts in Education Director for the N.C. Arts Council. “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 features recitations by students from public and private schools, including schools as far away as Jackson County in the mountains to Dare and New Hanover Counties on the North Carolina coast. Click here for a list of District Champions.

This event is free and open to the public.

The program starts at 10:30 a.m. at Triad Stage, 232 South Elm Street in Greensboro. Three concurrent semifinals will be held throughout the theater, with finalists announced after lunch.

Finalists will then advance to the final round of competition, which begins at approximately 3:30 p.m. in Triad Stage’s Pyrle Theater.

All rounds of competition are free and open to the public.

Distinguished members of North Carolina’s literary and theater community will serve as judges, including Sam Barbee, Beth Copeland, Howard Craft, Lenard Moore, Valerie Nieman, Matthew Wimberly, Jaki Shelton Green, Cassandra Williams, and Carolyn York, as well as Stephanie Levin, Sage Chioma, and Sarah Hankins, who will serve as Accuracy Judges for the competition.

Emcees for the semi-final competitions include Metta-Sáma Melvin, Dasan Ahanu, and Ismael Khatibu. The emcee for the final competition is Michael Beadle.

Schools participating in the program receive supplemental curriculum materials from the NEA, that include an online anthology of poetry to select from, a program guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance, online video resources, promotional and media guides, and access to a comprehensive website.

Students first compete at the school level, then at the district level. Winners from district competitions advance to the state level competition. The winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national championship at George Washington University, scheduled for April 23 to 26. The national finals will be webcast live, and our state champion will compete with state winners from across the country for a $20,000 college scholarship.

The state winner's school receives a $500 stipend to be used for purchasing poetry books. The runner-up at the state level receives $100, while the school receives $200 for buying poetry books.

For more information, contact Lauren Smith, N.C. Poetry Out Loud Coordinator at or visit

For questions about access or disability accommodations, please contact N.C. Arts Council Accessibility Coordinator Kari Martin Hollinger at (919) 807-6505 or