Poetry Breaks Down Barriers
Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.
– Maya Angelou
Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition for high school students. Participating students develop public speaking skills. They build self-confidence and learn to connect with literature in new ways, often discovering a new outlet for creative expression.
Who can participate?
Any school serving students in grade 9-12 may register to participate in the Washington State Poetry Out Loud program. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Students advance from classroom competitions to school-wide competitions. School champions progress to the regional competition. Regional champions move on to the state final. Finally, one student from each state advances to the National Finals.
If you are a student or teacher wishing to participate, please visit our Register for Poetry Out Loud page for details.
Washington first piloted Poetry Out Loud in 2005. In that first year, the program included just eight high schools in Thurston County. The program has grown to include over 60 schools from across the state. In the 2019-20 school year, over 18,000 students participated.
Washington has consistently ranked in the top five nationally in student participation. Washington State Champions continue to be strong contenders at the National Poetry Out Loud competition. Langston Ward of Spokane became our first National Champion in 2013.
Please note: these dates may be subject to adjustment.
- Registration Opens: September 8, 2020
- Registration deadline: November 16, 2020
- Classroom implementation: Any 2-3 weeks between September 2020 and early January 2021
- School Finals deadline: January 22, 2021
- Regional Finals (virtual) deadline: February 12, 2021; regional finals dates vary by region
- State Final (virtual): Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 6:30pm
- National Finals: Semi-Finals May 2, 2021; Finals May 27, 2021
ArtsWA partners with organizations in four regions across the state. These partners support school participation and regional finals.
- Eastern Washington: Spokane Arts
- Central Washington: Yakima Valley Community College
- Northwest Washington: Skagit River Poetry Foundation
- Southwest Washington: Educational Service District 112
View videos of students performing at the State Finals
For more information about this program, please send our Poetry Out Loud Coordinator an email.