Poetry Out Loud  | New York

Welcome to 2021 New York Poetry Out Loud!

This year, all Regional Semifinal Poetry Out Loud competitions in New York will be VIRTUAL. 

The New York State Final will be held LIVE/IN-PERSON* in Albany, NY, March 2021.

*The status of the event as “in-person” is subject to change, depending on safety recommendations at the time of the event.

Please join our Poetry Out Loud mailing list for:

  • Guidelines and the latest updates on participating in virtual regional semifinals
  • Information about online student workshops and other materials to help students prepare for competition.
  • Resources for Poetry Out Loud school coordinators


This year students can register for Poetry Out Loud independently if they are home schooled or if their high school is not participating. Before registering as an independent participant, please contact a teacher or school official to encourage them to bring POL to your school! Below is a list of ways schools can participate.  

Register for 2021 New York State Poetry Out Loud

Register as a School Register as a Student

 Student Registration: only select this option if you are home schooled or if your school is not participating in POL

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.

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 10 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.

Find more POL rules and guidelines.

About the Virtual Regional Semifinal Competitions

We want to give every student an opportunity to participate in Poetry Out Loud in a way that is safe, fair and fun!  We will share complete guidelines on how to participate in the Virtual Semifinal competitions by December 2020.  In the meantime, here is a summary of what to expect:

  • Prior to the competition, students will submit a video recording of themselves reciting their POL poems. 
  • Each Semifinal competition will be broadcast online, and judges will score recitations in real time, as the poems are aired. 
  • As in past competitions, there will be 3 rounds of recitation to arrive at the winner. View the complete rules for details.

The recitation recordings must adhere to the guidelines we will provide to ensure that all recordings are consistent in quality.  We will also provide technical assistance to anyone who needs it.

2021 Poetry Out Loud Key Dates

September – November 2020

  • 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.

November 2020

  • Deadline for schools or students to register: Monday, November 16, 2020

December 2020

  • Schools hold school-wide competitions to select their POL champions 
  • Preliminary competition for students registered independently

January and February 2021

  • Deadline for schools to submit the names of their school champions: Monday, January 4, 2021.
  • Virtual Regional Semifinal Competitions  

March 2021

  • New York State Final Competition in Albany, NY.

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.

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

From a competitive field of more than 6,500 students across the state, Zaida Polanco from 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.

Click here for the Poetry Foundation’s “Celebrating the 2020 Poetry Out Loud Champions” statement.

Bring a Virtual Poetry Out Loud writing workshop to your school!

If you are in the NYC area and want to bring a virtual POL poetry-writing program to your school or community center, contact us at [email protected].  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.

A Message from the New York State Poetry Out Loud Coordinator 

“Thank you so much for your expressed interest in Poetry Out Loud (POL)!

Here is a link to register your school. Once you’re registered, I will email you the planning and promotional materials currently available for the contest. 

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 2021.

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, 2021 (sending their information in before your school’s winter break is preferred).

*We will also host an additional Preliminary competition this year for high school-aged students who are not affiliated with a school or whose school is not registered. Please be sure if you are a student who is interested in participating and are enrolled in a New York State high school, to contact a teacher or school official in order to bring POL to your school. The registration for the no-school regional will be released in the coming months.

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!”

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 [email protected].

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 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

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.