Poetry Out Loud National Finals—Webcast and More

From Danielle Brown, Arts Education Special Projects Coordinator —

POL2016_color(Kbgnd)The next step for Poetry Out Loud 2016 is the National Finals, to be held May 3-4 in Washington, D.C. Across the U.S., over 317,000 students competed to be a part of this momentous day. Tennessee is sending our very own Alexia Buckner from Bolton High School in Arlington. This year, the national finals will be webcast live, and a special new component adds another competitive opportunity for the students.

Alexia will be up against 52 other competitors—every state plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in this year’s POL. They will recite to win the title of National Champion and a $20,000 prize. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be awarded to the top nine finalists and their schools. The day will be hosted by poet Elizabeth Acevedo and feature a performance by hip-hop artist and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon.

The event is free to attend, and all of us back home who can’t travel to D.C. for the live event can cheer on Alexia with a live, one-time only webcast of both the semifinals and the finals. You can also make it social by organizing a Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing Party. Register and find tips on hosting your party, promotional materials and details on other viewing parties around the country.

Another element has been added to the competition in honor of the NEA’s 50th anniversary. Called Poetry Ourselves, this optional additional event offers state champions another opportunity to showcase their creativity. Students may submit an original work of poetry in written or video format, and the winners will be announced at the May 4 National Finals. The two winners and runners-up will be selected by Patricia Smith, poetry slam champion and National Book Award finalist.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that encourages high school students around the country to learn classic and contemporary poetry through competitive recitation beginning in the classroom and culminating with the national finals.

Follow the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POL16. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit or call 202-682-5606.

Schedule and Details:

Semifinals: Tuesday, May 3, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Finals: Wednesday, May 4, 7:00 a.m. to 9:15 p.m.

Both events are being held at Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, D.C. They are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.