Poetry Out Loud  | New York

Congratulations to the 2020 New York State Poetry Out Loud Champion and Regional Finalists!

From a competitive field of more than 6,500 students across the state, Zaida Polanco from White Plains High School in White Plains NY, won the title of 2020 Poetry Out Loud™ NY State Champion at the state finals held at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City on March 7, 2020. The first runner-up was Mekhala Mantravadi from Horace Mann School in New York, NY.  

Zaida Polanco’s final recitation was How to Triumph Like a Girl by Ada Limón. In the poem, Limón celebrates the power of women and girls.

Here is a video of Zaida performing one of the poems she recited at the state final.

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 their literary heritage.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with US 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.

How It Works

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

Classroom Level

Students must prepare at least 1 poem to recite.

School Finals Level

Students must prepare 2 poems to recite.

State and National Levels

Students must prepare 3 poems to recite.*

Regional:  School winners advance to regional competitions.  See a list of anticipated regional competitions locations in New York State, below.

*At the state and national finals, students must have 3 poems prepared. One must be 25 lines or fewer, and one must be written before the 20th century. One poem may be used to meet both criteria, and may be the student’s third poem.

Registration for Poetry Out Loud in New York State is now open!

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.

Key Dates


Regional competitions will take place in January and February. The state final takes place in early March.  

2020 regional competitions took place at the following locations. We anticipate returning to these locations in 2021, though final regional competition locations may change, depending on registration.

  • Onondaga Community College, Syracuse
  • Walt Whitman Birthplace, Huntington Station (Long Island)
  • SUNY New Paltz
  • Nassau Community College, Garden City (Long Island)
  • Stony Brook University
  • Hudson Valley Community College, Troy
  • SUNY Global Center, New York City
  • SUNY Oneonta
  • College at Brockport (Rochester area)
  • Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City

Fall Message from the 2020 Poetry Out Loud Coordinator of New York State

“Thank you so much for your expressed interest in 2020 Poetry Out Loud (POL)!
Here is a link to register your school. Once you’re registered, I will mail you all the planning and promotional materials needed for the contest. Please let me know via email (pol@twc.org) if you need more copies than what’s provided and I’d be happy to send more.
All registered schools are encouraged to select 1-2 teachers to coordinate the school-wide contest, to recruit other teachers/classes to participate and to be the POL delegate between T&W and the school. Preparation for class and school recitation competitions can typically run between 3-4 weeks. However, it is also possible to run a program in a 1-2 week period with short, daily POL lessons. For classroom contests, students are expected to recite 1 poem from memory, 2 at the school-wide final and 3 at the regional, state and national finals. For your school contest, you’ll need an emcee, judges, a prompter and a score tabulator. The Teacher’s Guide and Judge’s Guide provide a comprehensive breakdown of each competition phase and goes into detail about how to create classroom and school wide competitions; resources include a sample POL class schedule and printable materials such as student certificates. The guides even provide tips and communication templates (PR tool kit) to advertise your school’s POL competition and raise school spirit. Regional competitions will occur between January and February 2020 (many of the dates and locations are still TBA). All classroom and school wide contests have internal deadlines/timelines so their dates and times are to your community’s discretion however, the winning students’ names, poems and poem order will be required by January 1, 2020 (sending their information in before your school’s winter break is preferred).
I hope this information helps to get you started. If you’d like to schedule a call to learn more about Poetry Out Loud, I’d be happy to coordinate a time via phone or continue corresponding through email. We are very excited to have your school community join us this year for Poetry Out Loud!”

Register here for the Poetry Out Loud competition in New York State.  

Visit poetryoutloud.org to connect with POL in other states.

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 December 1, 2019.

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.

Registration Form

Register here for the 2019-2020 competition!

Key Dates

Check here for all deadlines and competition dates, including regional, state and national competitions!


Complete list of rules.

Bring a Poetry Out Loud writing workshop to your school!

If you are in the NYC area and want to bring a POL poetry-writing program to your school or community center, contact us at workshops@twc.org.  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.


  • 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 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 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