FAQ's

What does it take to become involved in Poetry Out Loud?
Poetry Out Loud is entering its seventh exciting year in Tennessee. Poetry Out Loud is administered by the Tennessee Arts Commission. Contact James Wells at (615) 532-5934 or james.wells@tn.gov for information and a toolkit. The Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission provide all the necessary materials for sponsoring a Poetry Out Loud contest in your school.

What does Poetry Out Loud look like in a school?
An individual teacher, a group of teachers in the English, Drama, Forensics or Creative Writing department or club, decides to offer this opportunity to students. Teachers then implement the program in various ways including but not limited to:

  • A unit on poetry based on the poems in this program in English or drama classes, culminating in recitations by each student in front of the class, possibly using lesson plans that will be provided
  • The offering of extra credit to students who participate
  • An after-school opportunity for students who volunteer to participate
  • A school-wide celebration of poetr

The winner from your school will participate at the regional contest to be held in February within the three Grand Divisions – West, Middle and East Tennessee

Exactly what must the students who enter this program do?
Students should choose 3 poems to memorize and present. There are hundreds of poems from which to choose on the Poetry Out Loud Web site; approximately 100 of these poems will also be available in a paper anthology that will be provided to each teacher who participates. The poem selected for recitation must be at least 8, but no more than 60, lines.

It is strongly recommended that students who compete beyond the classroom level select poems of various style, time period, and voice. Diversity in the selections will offer a richer and more complete performance. At the state and national competitions, each student must recite at least one poem written before the 20th century. At least one of the three poems must also be 25 lines or shorter.

Each judge will have a complete list of every competitor's selections in advance so they may familiarize themselves with the poems and develop a sense of diversity and range.

Each student must recite the poem without the use of props, costumes, amplification, or music. Gestures and some amount of movement may be appropriate and encouraged, depending on the poem. Style and interpretation are most definitely encouraged!

Can students choose poetry outside of the poems in the anthology?
No. This website includes an online anthology of more than 600 poems that will continue to expand. The students must choose from that selection, or from the hardcopy Poetry Out Loud Anthology that will be distributed to schools participating in the official contests.

Is there a creative writing element to Poetry Out Loud?
The central objective of the program is to familiarize students with the best of their literary heritage, while teaching them important public speaking skills. Poetry Out Loud is not intended to replace classroom activities like creative writing; in fact, the two naturally complement each other. For that reason, the POL Web site has a number of optional writing activities and lesson plans http://www.poetryoutloud.org/teaching-resources/lesson-plans for teachers.

What happens after the school chooses a winner?
The school’s POL teacher/school coordinator will send the names of the school champion and titles of his or her three poems to the Tennessee Arts Commission.

The student and teacher winner of the state competition will receive $1,000 each and student and teacher runner-up will receive $500 each.
In addition, the top state student winner earns an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC with a chaperone to compete for the national championship in May.

A total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded at the National Finals for the winners, including a $20,000 college scholarship for the final national winner.

What are the benefits and aids for participating teachers?

  • Program guide to help teach recitation and performance
  • Hardcopy anthology of approximately 100 cherished poems
  • Extensive online poetry anthology and a comprehensive Web site
  • Audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers reciting the poems
  • Drama and poetry specialists available to conduct workshops to help your students
  • Standards information contained on the Web site
  • Far-reaching benefits for students—including enhanced public speaking skills—and for teachers, including an enriched literary and drama curriculum

 

jonPoetry Out Loud is entering its eighth exciting year in Tennessee. Poetry Out Loud is administered by the Tennessee Arts Commission. Contact James Wells at (615) 532-5934 or james.wells@tn.gov for information and a toolkit. The Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission provide all the necessary materials for sponsoring a Poetry Out Loud contest in your school.