Interested in Conducting a Poetry Out Loud Competition in Your School?

From Michelle Sipes, Arts Learning Specialist –

Join the Tennessee Arts Commission for a Poetry Out Loud (POL) Virtual Town Hall on Thursday, October 7, 2021 for two sessions at 4:15pm CT and 7:15pm CT. Led by Poetry Out Loud Coordinator Michelle Sipes, this overview session will highlight how to implement a Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition at your school, discuss setting up a FREE educational residency with a professional teaching artist, and answer any questions you have about the program. This Town Hall will also provide opportunities to receive free lesson plans and other educational resources! The Town Hall will be held via Microsoft Teams. Link will be sent out after submitting an RSVP here:

What is Poetry Out Loud?

Poetry Out Loud™ is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. The program has helped students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage through classical and contemporary poetry. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations have participated in Poetry Out Loud.

Similar to the National Spelling Bee, Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest begins at the classroom level, as participating teachers use the free Poetry Out Loud toolkit to teach poetry recitations and run classroom competitions. The program does not require full class periods, and all teaching resources are aligned with NCTE ELA Standards, making it an excellent addition to existing curriculum.

Who Can Participate?

All types of high schools are welcome to participate, including public, private, parochial, independent, charter, etc., as well as homeschool students. Non-school organizations, such as after-school clubs, libraries, or nonprofit organizations, may choose to run Poetry Out Loud as well. Students may only compete in one stream—either with their school or an organization. Only schools and organizations registered with their state Poetry Out Loud coordinator are eligible for the competition. Students unable to participate at their school or a local organization should contact their state Poetry Out Loud coordinator to discuss other opportunities for inclusion in the state’s official competition.

Listed below are the key dates for the 2021-2022 Poetry Out Loud Season:

  • Thursday, October 7, 2021: POL Virtual Town Hall #1 two sessions: 4:15pm CT & 7:15pm CT. RSVP for the townhall here:
  • Friday, October, 15, 2021: Early bird deadline to register for a teaching artist residency for the Fall semester.
  • Friday, January, 14, 2021: Deadline to schedule and register school competition.
  • Wednesday, January 26, 2022: Deadline to register your school’s champion for the state competition.
  • Friday and Saturday, March 4-5, 2022: Tennessee Poetry Out Loud State Finals – Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, TN.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, April 26–27, 2022: Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC.


Contact Michelle Sipes, Arts Learning Specialist, at or 615-532-5934 with any questions about Poetry Out Loud in Tennessee.

Additional information can be found at: and at