Welcome to Poetry Out Loud in New York!

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition, open to students in grades 9-12. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about diverse poets and their work. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Teachers & Writers Collaborative manages Poetry Out Loud in New York State, in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts.

Congratulations to the 2024 Poetry Out Loud State Finalists!

Congratulations the 18 student finalists in the 2024 season of Poetry Out Loud in New York! We’re thrilled to announce this year’s state champion and runner up.

2024 NY Poetry Out Loud Champion:

Emily Wang, Horace Mann School


Zoey Marcus, Stuyvesant High School

2024 Poetry Out Loud Winners
2024 Poetry Out Loud winner (right) Emily Wang, and runner-up (left) Zoey Marcus

Both the winner and runner up of the 2024 State Final won cash prizes for themselves and for their schools to purchase poetry materials. In addition, all of the state finalists received a gift of a full year subscription to Poets & Writers Magazine and copies of The Best American Poetry 2023, courtesy of Simon & Schuster. See the New York State Final Program for a full list of the 18 State Finalists and the schools represented.

2024 NYS Regional Semifinals

Students from around the state represented their schools at regional Poetry Out Loud Semifinals. Thank you to our regional partners for hosting these events!

New York State Regional Semifinals


Feb 2nd, 5:30pm

SUNY Global Center - 116 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022


Feb 6th, 5:30pm

SUNY Global Center - 116 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022


Feb 7th, 6pm

Hudson Valley Writers Center - 300 Riverside Dr, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591


Feb 12th, 6pm

Walt Whitman Birthplace Museum - 246 Old Walt Whitman Rd, Huntington Station, NY 11746


 Feb 13th, 5:30pm 

Hudson Valley Community College, BTC Auditorium, 80 Vandenburgh Ave, Troy, NY 12180 (Snow date Feb 15th)


Feb 15st, 5:30pm

Buffalo State University, Bulger Communications Center-Room 217, 1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222
Guests can park for free in the following lots: I37, I35, and I35 for the Bulger Communications Center.
Find a campus map here.


Feb 16th, 5:30pm

 Onondaga Community College, Coulter Library - Room C116, 585 W Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13215


Feb 26th, 5:30pm

Stony Brook University - Stony Brook, NY 11790
Humanities Building, Poetry Center, Room 2001



Feb 27th, 6pm

SUNY New Paltz - College Terrace, Sojourner Way, New Paltz, NY 12561 (Snow date Feb. 29th)


Video of the 2023 Poetry Out Loud State Final

What are students saying about POL?

“This experience has greatened my admiration for poetry, connected me with wonderful poets, and boosted my self-esteem. Truly an experience of a lifetime.”
— Lehakoe Tserane, 2023 POL Contestant


“Poetry Out Loud gave me the opportunity to think about and analyze what poetry means to me. By getting to take the poems apart line by line, stanza by stanza, and in some cases even word by word and then apply them to my experiences/world view (while also honoring the poet) was very impactful, inspirational, and really resonated with me.”
— Joslan Carter, 2023 POL Contestant


“Doing Poetry Out Loud has made me feel like so many things are obtainable. I’ve memorized and performed poems, even though it was difficult and I was scared. I tried something new and I had so much fun!”
— Emily Scherl, 2023 POL Contestant


“Poetry Out Loud has helped me to appreciate and discover different poems and poets. I have greatly improved my literary analysis skills through this experience. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this celebration of poetry!”
— Laurel Muench, 2023 POL Contestant

What is Poetry Out Loud?

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition, open to students in grades 9-12. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about diverse poets and their work. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.

Teachers & Writers Collaborative manages Poetry Out Loud in New York State, in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts.

NEA and Poetry Foundation

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid competition structure that starts at the classroom level.

Preliminary Competitions at Schools and for Independent Students Classroom

  • Schools conduct classroom and school-wide competitions to identify 1 or 2 POL champions to represent the school at the Semifinals.

Regional Semifinals 

  • Students participate in one of the 9 Semifinal competitions, according to their region.  The winner and runner-up of each Semifinal competition will move on to compete in the New York State Final.

State Final and National Final 

  • Winners and runners-up from the Semifinals will compete at the State Final.  The New York State POL Champion will move on to compete in the National Poetry Out Loud competition.

A pyramid graphic describing the various levels of competitions in Poetry Out Loud

School coordinators or others organizing a local POL competition should familiarize themselves fully with the rules of Poetry Out Loud at these links:

Rules and Eligibility

Organize a Contest

Teacher's Guide

Rules & Eligibility

  • Legal Participation Requirements: No student may be excluded from participating in Poetry Out Loud on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. Schools may determine eligibility for classroom and school level Poetry Out Loud programming pursuant to local and state law.

  • Prize Requirements: The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded in Poetry Out Loud. State champions and runners up will need a valid tax identification number or social security number at the time that monetary prizes are issued by the Poetry Foundation. Prizes are not transferable.

Poem Selection

For State semifinal and final competitions, students must prepare three (3) different poems selected from the official Poetry Out Loud Anthology, searchable online at poetryoutloud.org.  The three poems must meet the following criteria:

  • One poem must have been written BEFORE the 20th century. 

  • One poem must be UNDER 25 lines.

The online Poetry Out Loud Anthology has filters for "Pre 20th Century" and "25 Lines or Fewer" that make it easy to find poems that meet these criteria.

NOTE:  While the same poem may fit both requirements (eg. the poem is under 25 lines and written before the 20th century), the students must still prepare three different poems -- one distinct poem for each round of competition.  During a live/in-person competition, all students will perform two poems of their choice.  Students with the highest scores will move on to a final round of performance. Students choose in what order they wish to recite their poems.

Any school or community organization with at least 2 students can participate in the State Semifinals.

Curriculum Materials


  • Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.
  • The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals.

Awards are 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.

Calendar of Events

September - November 

  • Schools register to participate in Poetry Out Loud and begin school wide competitions.

  • Students whose schools are not participating in Poetry Out Loud register as independent participants.

  • Dates announced for Semifinal and State Final competitions.

Poetry Out Loud performers
Student reciting in Poetry Out Loud event


  • Deadline for schools or students to register is usually in November.


  • Schools hold school-wide competitions to select their POL champions and register them for the Semifinals


January & February 

Students who will be representing their schools in the Semifinals or who will be competing independently register for the Semifinal competitions.

The stage at the 2020 Poetry Out Loud final
Winners of the 2020 New York State Poetry Out Loud competition


  • New York State Final Competition!

About the Virtual Semi-final Competition

We want to give every student an opportunity to participate in Poetry Out Loud in a way that is safe, fair and fun!  To ensure student safety, the 2021 and 2022 Poetry Out Loud competition in New York State were held VIRTUALLY, with students participating by video submission.  The National Poetry Out Loud competition was also submission-based.

Here is a summary of what took place:

  • By the competition deadline, students submitted three (3) video recordings of themselves reciting their POL poems.
  • As in past competitions, there were 3 rounds of recitation to arrive at the winner. View the complete rules for details.
  • The recitation recordings adhered to the guidelines provided to ensure that all recordings are consistent in quality.

Ways to Participate

Get started by registering with us and start a program in your high school or community.

An entity needs at least two students to participate in the national program. Individual or groups of teachers, a school club, the entire school, or an out-of-school program for high school-aged individuals may participate. Please register by November 15, 2021.

Poetry Out Loud (POL) can be a boost in your community and a great addition to your current curriculum or programs. Here are examples of ways you can start a local program:

  • English teachers at a school can implement the POL curriculum in their classrooms by setting aside two weeks to analyze and recite poems from the anthology. Each classroom teacher uses the POL rubric to determine a winner who advances to the school contest. The school contest is a mix of ages and skill levels, presented at an all-school assembly with a panel of judges from the community.

  • The drama or theater teacher uses POL to help students strengthen public speaking and performance skills. After participating in open mic poetry recitations and mock contests, a school contest is held in the library during lunch. An AP English teacher and the school literacy coach serve as judges.

  • A parent volunteer convenes a poetry group after school, under the supervision of a teacher. Students have the opportunity to receive peer feedback and coaching from the teacher on their presentations. The contest is held in a classroom after school, judged by a local community theater director and the school’s writer-in-residence. The winner presents their poems at a faculty meeting to celebrate.

  • In a home school group, a single family, or small group of families, recite poetry together. Competing students are scored by at least two non-biased (not family members) judges. The winning students present at the local Rotary Club to celebrate.

  • A community-based organization or literary center can build POL lesson plans into their existing programming for after-school or weekend teen workshops. The culminating contest could be held on a Saturday at their local center or meeting room with a public audience including parents, teachers, and friends.

For any questions or information, or to let us know you’re interested in registering for the next school year, contact us at pol@twc.org.

Bring a virtual POL poetry-writing program to your school or community center. 

In our workshops, students create original poems inspired by the poems in the POL collection. Through this creative practice, student deepen their comprehension and personal connection with the POL poems.

New York Poetry Out Loud Partners

  • The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

  • The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audiences.

  • New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, is dedicated to preserving and expanding the rich and diverse cultural resources that are and will become the heritage of New York’s citizens.

2018-2019 Poetry Out Loud New York Sponsor:  Con Edison

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