Poetry Out Loud

A partnership of National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

For the first time, our region (Region 2) is eligible for competition by submission through Piedmont Arts in Martinsville, Virginia. This year, local and state competitions are being held virtually (through video submission or live Zoom).

Interested students do not have to be supported by a teacher to compete, although classroom and school practice competitions are highly encouraged. Poems must be selected from the Poetry Out Loud anthology in order to be considered. Local competitions require the recitation of one poem, state and national competitors are expected to recite three poems.


Only currently enrolled students in grades 9–12 are eligible, with an exception made for 8th-grade students participating in a 9th- through 12th-grade class.


Initial entries (student name, school and 2 selected poems) are due by November 22, 2021. Local competition will depend upon the number of entries and will be announced the week of November 22. All students should be prepared to recite their poems in competition before the regional deadline (December 10).


All entries for our region must be submitted via the online Entry Form or mailed to Sarah Short, Piedmont Arts, 215 Starling Ave, Martinsville, VA. 24112.

Outside of Henry County or Martinsville City, but still in Region 2? You still need to submit your initial entries by December 10, 2021 to Casey Polczynski, casey.polczynski@vca.virginia.gov. Video entries for the regional competitions are due by January 1, 2022. Virginia state competition will be held March 12, 2022.

National Finals

The 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Finals are planned to be held April 25–27 in Washington, DC, and the state winner is sent with all expenses paid. At the national finals, a total of $50,000 in awards and school/organizational stipends is awarded annually. 

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