Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud Logo


Calling all high school students interested in reciting great poetry!

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation are again partnering with the Hawai’i State Foundation for Culture and the Arts and Honolulu Theatre for Youth to sponsor the 2015 Poetry Out Loud competition.

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.


Hawai‘i State Finals Scheduled Sunday, February 22, 2015
Click here for details: POL Hawai‘i Finals.


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!”

High school teachers of public, private, charter or home schools that wish to host official POL events should contact the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. All materials and resources will be provided. Competitions begin in the fall and the state final competition will be held on February 22, 2015. For additional information, call Honolulu Theatre for Youth at 808-839-9885, ext. 704, or email edadmin@htyweb.org. Program materials, poems, and resources are available at www.poetryoutloud.org.

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 information about the national program visit www.poetryoutloud.org or contact Kasey Lindley at edadmin@htyweb.org or 839-9855 ext. 704.


Brady Jernigan, 2014 Hawai‘i Winner, Poetry Out Loud

2014 Hawai’i State Champion Brady Jernigan, Copyright © 2014 Poetry Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts

Click here for information about last year’s Hawai‘i competition: 2014 Poetry Out Loud. Read an interview with Brady Jernigan, the 2014 Hawai‘i State Champion.