Poetry Out Loud Program Information

History of Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud was piloted on a limited basis in Washington State in 2005. In that first year, the program included just eight high schools in Thurston County. In 2016-17 there were over sixty schools from all across the state, with over 20,000 students participating.

In 2016, Washington State Poetry Out Loud program ranked in the top five programs in the country in terms of numbers of students participating. Washington State Champions have been a strong presence at the National Poetry Out Loud competition and Washington has had one National Champion (Langston Ward of Spokane in 2013).


Who can participate?

Any school in Washington State serving students in grades 9-12 is eligible to participate in the annual Poetry Out Loud program. Please read the information below and on our Fact Sheet before registering.  There is no registration cost. Curricular materials are free, and available online.

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure to advance students from the classroom competition, to school-wide competitions, to regionals, and finally to state competition. One student from each state advances to the National Finals.   


What you should know if you are a teacher

Schools wishing to participate must be registered by a member of that school’s staff. Each school should have at least two to three participating teachers, each of whom involve two or more of their classes in the Poetry Out Loud program. This guideline is meant to promote a meaningful level of participation within the school, but exceptions may be made for smaller schools and schools new to Poetry Out Loud.

One teacher at each registered school will serve as the Lead Teacher, acting as the primary program contact and coordinating school-level activity among the others participating. 

In addition to classroom resources, ArtsWA provides additional support to teachers participating in Poetry Out Loud.  Check back to review what is available for 2017-18.


What you should know if you are a student

Students interested in bringing Poetry Out Loud to their school should share their interest in the program with a teacher at their school. School registrations can only be accepted from that school’s staff.  Share the many links and informational resources on this page with your teacher, as well as those found on the national Poetry Out Loud website.

More information about getting your school involved in this program can be found on our Registration Page.

If you have additional questions, contact our Poetry Out Loud coordinator by email.


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