Igniting student potential through the power of poetry


The voices of our youth command our future

Poetry Out Loud inspires in high school students the confidence to make themselves heard, using one of the most powerful tools at their disposal—art.

Poetry in education has experienced a Renaissance through Poetry Out Loud. Students are given the opportunity to interact with the words of the masters through recitation, building a relationship with the works and creating a sense of shared ownership branded by their own technique of volume, pitch, pace, and personal point of view.

California proudly holds court as home to the largest Poetry Out Loud competition in the country, growing steadily since its start in 2005. 


“In the end, being sincere and true to yourself is what people in the theater—and everywhere—crave to see in a performance.”

Lily bogas  | 2019 california poetry out loud champion


About Poetry Out Loud

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered statewide by the California Arts Council, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Participants master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. California's Poetry Out Loud is the largest event of its kind in the U.S., and has grown steadily since its inception. The 2019 competition series encompassed 52 counties, 305 schools, and 730 teachers, reaching nearly 60,600 students statewide.


How it works

The structure of Poetry Out Loud is similar to a spelling bee. This annual program starts in the fall, with high school teachers using the free Poetry Out Loud teacher toolkit and related materials to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Classroom winners advance to a schoolwide competition; school champions compete at the district or county level by mid-February. County winners are then treated to an unforgettable two days at the California Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Sacramento, and a chance to compete in the national competition in Washington, D.C.

The California state champion receives:

  • $200 cash prize and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

  • $500 for their school to purchase literary materials

  • An opportunity to compete at the National Finals for college scholarship funds

The National Finals in Washington D.C. will take place April 27-29, 2020. Visit poetryoutloud.org for detailed information and to check out POL action across the country.

2019 State Champions

Lily Bogas

First Place
Marin County

Penny dellapelle

San Luis Obispo County

Jackson dean

Third Place
Riverside County