Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud header image


About Poetry Out Loud

Recitation and performance are major new trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music among our youth. Poetry Out Loud builds on this momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have formed a partnership with state arts agencies to support the expansion of Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Registration is open to all public and private high schools in Maine as well as high school homeschooling populations.

The competition itself is organized nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. It begins in Maine’s schools where school champions are selected to compete in two regional finals at which ten students are ultimately selected to recite at the state finals. One student, the state champion, moves on from the state finals to represent Maine at the national finals in Washington D.C., where students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico will compete for a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends for the purchase of poetry books.


Gabrielle Cooper is the 2017 Maine State Champion 

The Maine Arts Commission is proud to announce Gabrielle Cooper, a senior at Gardiner Area High School as the 2017 State Poetry Out Loud Champion. The State Runner-up is Natalie Lisnet, a senior from Bangor High School. Both students will receive cash awards and their schools will receive prize money to purchase poetry books for their libraries.

After rising to the top in classroom, school wide and regional level competitions, 10 state finalists gathered at the Waterville Opera House in Waterville to recite three rounds of poetry from memory. All 10 contestants recited two poems before intermission, at which time the panel of four judges selected five finalists. In the final round of five, Gabrielle Cooper was ultimately selected as state champion and will represent the State of Maine at the National Poetry Out Loud Finals in Washington, D.C., April 24-26, 2017.

Cooper impressed a panel of judges to become the 2017 State Champion by reciting three poems during the competition: “The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Please Don’t” by Tony Hoagland, and “To be of use" by Marge Piercy. Of Cooper's third poem, she said, "It is about the value of hard work and how nice it is to see progress in your efforts."

Jennifer Rooks, public affairs host and producer at Maine Public was the master of ceremonies for the event at the Waterville Opera House. The event also featured music from the Maranacook Chamber Singers and a reading by Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum. "I think that when a poem works and a poet gets to the point where he or she wants to get, it's because they made a discovery in their work," Kestenbaum said while speaking to the finalists during the program. "I think when you spoke those poems, you were making that same discovery in the words that the poet made." Kestenbaum presented signed copies of his book of poems Only Now to all the finalists.

The Maine Arts Commission congratulates and thanks all of the students who made the 2017 Maine Poetry Out Loud Finals an amazing event.

Maine Poetry Out Loud State Finalists: (left to right): Emma Beyor, Kate Hodgson, Amran Mahamed, Skyler Vaughn, Arielle Leeman, Antyna Gould, Gabrielle Cooper, Natalie Lisnet, Jordan Bryant and Sabrina Small.

Maine State Champion

Gabrielle Cooper, Grade 12, Gardiner Area High School

Maine State Runner-Up

Natalie Lisnet, Grade 12, Bangor High School

State Finalists

Antyna Gould, Grade 12, Medomak Valley High School

Arielle Leeman, Grade 12, Morse High School

Amran Mahamed, Grade 11, Deering High School

Regional Finalists

Emma Beyor, Grade 12, Erskine Academy

Jordan Bryant, Grade 10, Greely High School

Kate Hodgson, Grade 12, Camden Hills Regional High School

Sabrina Small, Grade 12, Maine Coast Waldorf School

Skyler Vaughn, Grade 12, The Maine Girls’ Academy 

For more information about Poetry Out Loud, and for how your school can participate next year, visit this site or contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission at vog.eniam@rotsen.ygra. Videos of the Poetry Out Loud state and regional finals will be made available on the Maine Arts Commission Youtube and Facebook page: https://www.youtube.com/user/VirtualMaineArts

Key Dates for the 2016/17 Poetry Out Loud Competition

September-November 2016 - School Registration (closed)

November 7, 2016    Last day to register for Poetry Out Loud     

January  9, 2017        Last day for school-wide competitions

January 17, 2017       Last day for Regional Finals Registration  

January 23, 2017       Last day for Workshop Registration

January 26, 2017       Northern Regional Workshop (4-6 p.m., Hampden Academy)

January 31, 2017       Snow date for Northern Regional Workshop

February 10, 2017     Southern Regional Workshop (4-6 p.m., Portland Public Library)

February 27, 2017     Northern Maine Regional Finals (Performing Arts Center, Hampden Academy, 3 p.m.)

February 28, 2017     Southern Maine Regional Finals (Garland Auditorium,Thornton Academy, 3 p.m.)

March 2, 2017            Snow date Southern Maine Regional Finals   

March 3, 2017            Snow date Northern Maine Regional Finals            

March 13, 2017          Maine State Finals (3 p.m., Waterville Opera House)

March 14, 2017          Snow date for Maine State Finals

April 24-26, 2017        Poetry Out Loud National Finals (Washington, D.C.)


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 vog.eniam@rotsen.ygra.

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