Poetry out loud

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 Triad Stage, 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 Sarah Hankins at poetryoutloud@triadstage.org or go to Triad Stage's Poetry Out Loud page.

New For The 2020-21 Year

  • Professional Development with Poets and Spoken Word Artists
  • NEW “Poetry Ourselves” program focused on creative writing and spoken word
  • Virtual Regional Festivals to celebrate original poetry & semi-finalists
  • Student Registration open for those without participating schools/teachers

Registration and Submission Dates for 2020-21

  • Friday, November 13th, 2020: DEADLINE for registration
  • Friday, January 15th, 2021: DEADLINE for submitting school winner to NC POL Coordinator
  • Friday, January 22nd, 2021: DEADLINE for submitting county winner to NC POL Coordinator

2020-2021 Statewide Poetry Out Loud Virtual Festivals, Regional and National Competition Dates

  • Saturday, February 13th, 2021: Virtual Festival and Regional Semi-Finals
  • Saturday, February 20th, 2021: North Carolina Semi-Finals and Finals 
  • Saturday, February 27th, 2021: Inclement weather date for Semi-Finals and Finals
  • April 26th-28th, 2020: Virtual National Semi-Finals and Final Competitions


Helpful Links

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


Sarah Hankins
NC POL Coordinator
Email Sarah