Poetry Out Loud



Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition for high school students, started by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in 2005. The goal is to provide students an opportunity to read and recite great poems while enhancing their public speaking and presentation skills. 

Poetry Out Loud—Building Creativity and Confidence Since 2005

Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the State Arts Agencies of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Using the Poetry Out Loud curriculum, teachers guide students toward a deeper understanding of the power of language and literature. Students develop a personal relationship with great poems while learning about their literary heritage through poetry recitation. Plus, participants master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and improve their reading comprehension scores. Each school holds a recitation contest to determine a school champion. 

In Florida, Poetry Out Loud is implemented in approximately 60 high schools and impacts 9,000- 11,000 students each year. The program brings a unit of poetry into the classroom and introduces students to a breadth of poets from a variety of backgrounds. This culminates in a school-wide competition where students channel their newly found favorite poets and recite their work. Each school’s winner is invited to compete at the state competition held in St. Petersburg each year. The State Champion’s school library receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. More than $50,000 in prizes and school stipends are awarded annually at the National Finals in April, with the national winner receiving $20,000 in college scholarship funds.


This project is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. 







  • October 10, 2023
    Information Session

  • January 19, 2024
    Deadline to register school

  • February 5, 2024
    Register POL student finalists

  • March 2, 2024
    State Finals to be hosted at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus

  • May 9, 2024
    Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC


Yan Luis Lebron and Janessa Montilla

The Florida State Championship Announces 2023 Champion:

Yan Luis Lebron
Howard Blake High School
Tampa, FL


Janessa Montilla
Pembroke Pines Charter High School
Pembroke Pines, FL

Yan Luis, a 9th grade student from Riverview, FL, under the direction of Nyasha Mutunhu, who was in attendance, was announced the FL State Poetry Out Loud Champion with his fan club cheering him on. Yan Luis thanked his teacher and mom for helping him achieve his goals. In addition to poetry recitation, Yan enjoys writing slam poetry and is excited to attend the National Student Leadership Convention this summer in New York City.

As the FL State Poetry Out Loud Champion, Yan will compete at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC.

May 8 - 10, 2023


Interested teachers may review the Poetry Out Loud classroom materials, poems, instructions and other resources at poetryoutloud.org. While teachers, students, and poetry lovers everywhere can use the Poetry Out Loud website to organize their own contests, the sanctioned contest is limited to the programs run by each states’ arts agency. Schools that would like to participate in Florida’s official Poetry Out Loud program, receive the Poetry Out Loud toolkit, and send a student to Florida’s Poetry Out Loud State Finals should register their school. Within two weeks of registering, schools will receive the Poetry Out Loud toolkit which includes a Teacher’s Guide, lessons plans, and a promotional poster. 



We are thrilled to announce that registration is now open for the 2024 Poetry Out Loud Gets Original (POLGO). POLGO is a complimentary competition to Poetry Out Loud (POL) Florida, specifically designed for high school students who participated in the state of Florida POL 2024 programming and competitions. We cordially invite these students to unleash their creativity and submit their original poetry for the chance to be featured in an anthology that will be published and distributed to participants.

Selected students whose poems make it to publication will receive notifications by April 1. Selected students will also have the opportunity to participate in a virtual open microphone competition. This event is scheduled for Monday, April 15, 2024, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Winners of the competition will be awarded cash prizes ranging from $50 to $150, recognizing excellence in both content and performance.

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg proudly serves as the state coordinator and host of Poetry Out Loud Florida. For the POLGO competition, we have partnered with Keep St. Pete Lit, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and promoting St. Petersburg's literary community through arts, education, and events, along with St. Petersburg Press.

Original poetry may be on any topic and has a 300 word maximum.


Submission Guidelines:

  • 1-3 poems
  • Single spaced
  • Poems can be no more than a page and a half
  • 12pt font

Key Dates:

  • January 15, 2024 – Registration opens for POLGO Original Poetry Competition

  • March 10, 2024 - Deadline for students to submit original poetry

  • April 1, 2024 - Notifications of selection sent to students.

  • April 15, 2024, 6-8 p.m. - POLGO Virtual Competition

To apply to participate in POLGO, REGISTER HERE


Questions? Contact:

Caryn Nesmith at carynn@usf.edu

Poetry is one of the most expressive art forms. Whether recounting a real-life event, providing social commentary, or merely seeking to entertain, poetry requires introspection in order to effectively share with others. USF St. Petersburg campus is proud to be the state organizer this year for Poetry Out Loud state competition.