Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud Postcard Announcing Finals



Calling all high school students interested in reciting great poetry!

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation national initiative presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. By encouraging high school students to memorize and perform great poems, Poetry Out Loud invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. This exciting new program, which began in 2005, helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The competition offers thousands of dollars in prizes and an opportunity for one Hawai‘i winner to compete with other state winners in Washington, DC for the grand prize of $20,000.

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, level of difficulty, and evidence of understanding.

One state’s winner benefited by “getting out of my comfort zone and trying something that was completely new to me.” Another state winner believes that “by memorizing and reciting a poem, you make it a part of you, which necessitates gaining some understanding of it. You have to figure out what it means and how you are going to present it to your audience. It also becomes more personal to you and you appreciate something new about it with each recitation.”

Teachers see the benefits as well. As one enthusiastically noted, “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. Call 808-839-9885, ext. 704, or email edadmin@htyweb.org. Program materials, poems, and resources are available at www.poetryoutloud.org.

This is the ninth year that the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts has partnered with Honolulu Theatre for Youth to bring POL to Hawaii students.