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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get my class or school involved in Poetry Out Loud?

You must first register online with the Maine Arts Commission. You will then work with the state coordinator to get the program up and running in your school. The NEA provides all the necessary materials for Poetry Out Loud on the official Poetry Out Loud website.

How much class time does Poetry Out Loud take to run?

The official Poetry Out Loud program is implemented in schools in fall and early winter. The program does not require full class periods and can be completed in 2-3 weeks. There are, however, many opportunities to make Poetry Out Loud part of a larger poetry curriculum.

Can students choose poetry outside of the poems in the anthology?

No. The Poetry Out Loud website includes an online anthology of more than 650 poems. The students must choose from that collection or from the Poetry Out Loud print anthology. All poems in the Poetry Out Loud print anthology are eligible for competition regardless of whether or not they are included in the online anthology. Neither the Maine Arts Commission nor the Poetry Out Loud national office has hard copies of the print anthology available for distribution.

Are there any participation restrictions?

No student may be excluded from participation in this program on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin. Schools may determine eligibility for classroom- and school-level Poetry Out Loud programs pursuant to local and state law. Under federal law, participation in state competitions and the National Finals is restricted to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  Foreign exchange students and other visitors are not eligible to compete for titles or official prizes at the state and national level, unless they are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A National Champion is not eligible to compete in future years.

What are the award amounts at the state and national levels?

The following awards are offered for the official state and national finals. The awards do not apply to other contests. Each winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, DC, to compete in the National Finals. The state winner's school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. Some states may offer additional prizes. We will award $50,000 total in cash and school stipends at the National Finals, with a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion. Awards will be made in the form of lump sum cash payouts, reportable to the IRS. Tax liabilities are the sole responsibility of the winners and their families.

Why has a poem been removed from the online anthology?

Poems that are particularly popular or ones that have been used frequently in national competition are occasionally retired. This way, the Poetry Out Loud program can highlight new poems for students and their audiences. Judges also appreciate hearing new performances. All poems appearing after September 1, 2015 in the online anthology are eligible for competition.


For Students


Poems & Performance

Nervous about reciting? Unsure of where to start? Don’t be—everything you need to help you perform a successful recitation is right here.

  • Find the perfect poem
  • Watch examples of great recitations
  • Listen to poetry being read and the art of recitation discussed
  • Read tips for what the judges are looking for


Keep in Mind

For the State and National Finals students are required to recite at least one poem that was written before the 20th century and one that is 25 lines or fewer. However, one poem can fulfill both criteria at once.


For more information about Poetry Out Loud, please contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education at the Maine Arts Commission, at 207/287-2713 or by email at