High School Students from Across Nation to Compete in Poetry Out Loud

From National Endowment for the Arts –

The 2024 Poetry Out Loud® National Finals will be held in Washington, DC, May 1-2, bringing together high school students from across the nation to the capital for an exciting poetry recitation competition, where one student will win the title of national champion and a $20,000 prize. All 55 state and jurisdictional champions will compete in the national semifinals on Wednesday, May 1. Nine finalists will then proceed to the finals on Thursday, May 2. The semifinals and finals will take place at the Lisner Auditorium at the George Washington University and will be streamed live at Visit for the list of the 2024 Poetry Out Loud champions who will take part in the competition.

This year, more than 160,800 students participated in Poetry Out Loud, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation along with state and jurisdictional arts agencies. Since the program began in 2005, it has reached more than 4.4 million students from 20,000 schools.

“We congratulate each of our state and jurisdictional champions on making it to this moment, and we look forward to having them come together in Washington, DC, this spring,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “While Poetry Out Loud is a competition, it is also an opportunity for these students to forge new friendships through shared passion for poetry and performance while building communication and interpersonal skills that will serve them well in the future.”

“I continue to be impressed by Poetry Out Loud participants’ ability to breathe new life and personal significance into their selected poems,” said Michelle T. Boone, president and CEO of Poetry Foundation. “I’d like to thank all Poetry Out Loud participants for demonstrating the power of poetry and extend a special congratulations to the champions who will be competing in the finals.”

A total of $50,000 in awards and school or organizational stipends will be awarded at the National Finals, including $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists, respectively. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded for Poetry Out Loud. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals are administered by Mid Atlantic Arts.

National Semifinals—Wednesday, May 1, 2024

The state and jurisdictional champions will compete in one of three National Semifinals between 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET at Lisner Auditorium, the George Washington University, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC. All three semifinals are free and open to the public—no ticket required.

Each poem recitation will be judged on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, interpretation, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy. The top three students from each semifinal, nine in total, will move on to the National Finals on May 2.

  • 9:00 a.m. ET—Champions from Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • 1:00 p.m. ET—Champions from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
  • 5:00 p.m. ET—Champions from Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

National Finals—Thursday, May 2, 2024

The National Finals will take place at 7:00 p.m. ET, also at Lisner Auditorium, and will culminate with the announcement of the 2024 Poetry Out Loud National Champion. The National Finals are free and open to the public—no ticket required.

Judges are H-Dirksen L. Bauman, Amber McBride, Lupe Mendez, Mei Ann Teo, and Laura Tohe. The evening will also include a performance by Grammy award-winning musician and songwriter Leyla McCalla.

In addition to the live competition at Lisner Auditorium, both the Semifinals and National Finals can be viewed via a one-time-only live webcast at

Closed captioning in English and Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided for both the Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals and Finals.

Join the conversation on X (Twitter) and Instagram using #POL24 and #IAmPoetryOutLoud and follow the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation at @PoetryOutLoud, @NEAArts, and @PoetryFound.

The Poetry Out Loud state champions also have the opportunity to compete in the Poetry Ourselves competition by submitting an original work of poetry in one of two categories: either a written poem or a video of a spoken poem. The winner and runner-up in each category will be selected by poet José Olivarez and announced at the May 2 National Finals competition.

About Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud starts in the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Students memorize and recite poems they select from an anthology of more than 1,200 classic and contemporary poems. Winners then may advance to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.4 million students and 81,000 teachers from 20,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated in Poetry Out Loud. For more information about Poetry Out Loud and how to participate in the 2024–2025 program, visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States. Visit to learn more.

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation recognizes the power of words to transform lives. The Foundation works to amplify poetry and celebrate poets by fostering spaces for all to create, experience, and share poetry. Follow the Poetry Foundation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and Poetry magazine on Twitter.

About Mid Atlantic Arts

Mid Atlantic Arts supports artists, presenters, and organizations through unique programming, grant support, partnerships, and information sharing. Created in 1979, Mid Atlantic Arts is aligned with the region’s state arts councils and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mid Atlantic Arts combines state and federal funding with private support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to nurture diverse artistic expression while connecting people to meaningful arts experiences within our region and beyond. To learn more about Mid Atlantic Arts visit