Coming Up: Poetry Out Loud 2018

Posted on Aug 30, 2017 in Arts Education, Blog Post, Poetry Out Loud

group of 9 students surrounding National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu and holding up a sign reading “Poetry Out Loud National Competition”Calling all high school students interested in reciting great poetry! The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation are once again sponsoring Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation competition with thousands of dollars in prizes and an opportunity for one Hawaii winner to compete with other state winners in Washington, DC for the grand prize of $20,000. Last year, Punahou School junior Nicholas Amador won the Hawai‘i finals, earning $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to the national finals, where he placed 2nd in the nation, winning an additional $10,000!

The competition has a pyramid structure, with class winners competing against each other for school-wide winner. The school winners compete in semi-finals and/or statewide finals. A panel of judges scores each contestant on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.

Thoughts by students participating in Poetry Out Loud – Hawai‘i:

“I learned that you have to be honest with yourself. Don’t pick a poem because you think it would sound good, pick it because it speaks to you.”

“I’ve learned to never doubt yourself because I didn’t think that I was good at poetry or even that I could stand up in front of my school, not to mention my state.”

“Poetry is important to me because it speaks on a different frequency than any other language. It talks more directly to your soul than words simply strung together.”

Teachers see the benefits as well:

“If for no other reason, the search for ‘just the right poem’ exposes students to such a vast array of forms and poems that the benefits are immeasurable. I heard more poetry being read aloud by students and more discussions about poems than I have heard in over 20 years of teaching!”

High school teachers of public, private, charter or home schools that wish to host official POL events should contact the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. December 20 is the deadline for schools to register to participate. The state final competition will be held in Honolulu on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Neighbor Island winners will have their airfare to Honolulu paid for. Call 808-839-9885 ext. 704, or email Program materials, poems, and resources are available at

This is the thirteenth year that the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts has partnered with Honolulu Theatre for Youth to bring POL to Hawai‘i students.