Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud Logo



Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation initiative that encourages 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 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.

The Hawai‘i State Finals were held on Sunday, February 22, 2015. The 10th Poetry Out Loud National Finals  took place on April 28-29, 2015, at the Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University in Washington, DC.

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 twenty years of teaching!”

Winners at the state level will receive a $200 cash award and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., $500 for their school to purchase poetry books, and the opportunity to compete at the National Finals for the $20,000 award.

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

For additional information, call Honolulu Theatre for Youth at 808-839-9885, ext. 704, or email edadmin@htyweb.org. For information about the national program, including program materials, poems, and resources, visit www.poetryoutloud.org or contact Kasey Lindley at edadmin@htyweb.org or 839-9855 ext. 704.

The 13 Poetry Out Loud from the 2015 state competition with emcee Ben Gutierrez

The 2015 Poetry Out Loud state participants with emcee Ben Gutierrez

Click here for information about the 2015 Hawai‘i competition: 2015 Poetry Out Loud.