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Poetry Out Loud

Encouraging youth poetry

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. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Students also have the opportunity to compete for an expenses paid trip to Washington DC and over $50,000 in scholarships and prizes.


Cheryl Germann, Kansas Poetry Out Loud Coordinator

[email protected]

School Competitions & At-Large Entries

Poetry Out Loud begins at the local level, in classrooms and schools. Kansas Regional Coordinators provide information to schools, help organizers structure the competition, and answer any questions that you might have about getting involved in Poetry Out Loud. Local winners advance to regional competition.

Schools and at-large entrants regional contest registration deadlines vary, so please contact your regional or state coordinator for dates and details. Contact information is below.

  • Competitors must be enrolled in grades 9-12, with an exception made for 8th-grade students participating in a 9th-12th-grade class.
  • Students must either advance through the classroom/school competition format or be entered as an at-large entry. At-large entries are for someone whose school does not have a competition or is a home-school student. Only one student may advance from each school.
  • Students are required to prepare and recite two poems for school competitions.
  • Poems must come from the Poetry Out Loud Anthology.

Regional Competitions

Regional competitions are held in the winter each year. In 2023 these events were in Olathe, Hays, Wichita, and Girard.

Competition reminders/FAQ:

  • Students are required to recite two poems of their choice from the POL Anthology.
  • If a regional contest has 2 – 3 contestants, 1 student will advance to the state final.
  • If 4 – 6 contestants are at the regional contest, 2 will advance to the state final.
  • If 7 or more contestants compete at regional, 3 students will advance to the state final.

State Finals

The 2023 State Final was held March 11, 2023 at Washburn University’s Andrew J. and Georgia Neese Gray Theatre, also recorded and aired by KTWU (PBS).


  • State Finalists must have three poems ready to recite.
    • One poem must be 25 lines or fewer.
    • One poem must be pre-20th century.
    • One poem may meet both the 25 lines or fewer & pre-20th century criteria.
  • The first two recitations of all competitors will be judged in opening rounds.
  • The top 3 competitors will then have their third recitation judged.
  • The winner will advance to the national finals.
  • The state winner will receive $200. The winner’s school will receive $500 for poetry materials.
    The runner-up will receive $100; his or her school will receive $200 for poetry materials.

National Finals

The 2024 Poetry Out Loud National Finals will be April 30 – May 2, 2024 in Washington, DC.

(Pictured: 2023 State Champion & National Finalist Victoria Jelks from Horton High School)
Image credit to Ann Dean.

How Do I Get Involved?

All Kansas high schools are invited to participate.

  • POL is free of charge!
  • Students compete for thousands of dollars in scholarships and prizes.
  • POL meets many Kansas ELA and Theatre standards, as well as NCTE standards.
  • KAC provides personalized assistance to help teachers get started and carry out the program.
(Pictured: 2020 State Champion Santiago Vasquez)

Additional Resources

Kansas Past Winners

2023: Victoria Jelks – Horton High School

2022: Allie Cloyd – Manhattan High School
2021: Garrett McLaughlin – Shawnee Mission West High School
2020: Santiago Vasquez – Salina South High School
2019: Khadija Ceesay – Olathe South High School
2018: Bella L’Heureux – Blue Valley High School
2017: Sarah Katsiyiannis – Tipton Catholic High School
2016: Sarah Katsiyiannis – Tipton Catholic High School
2015: Leanne Chun – Olathe South High School
2014: Leanne Chun – Olathe South High School
2013: Aaron Brown – Shawnee Mission West High School
2012: Cody Keener – Baldwin High School
2011: Casha Gloria Mills – Shawnee Mission North High School
2010: Casha Gloria Mills – Shawnee Mission North High School
2009: Madeline Rogers – Baldwin High School
2008: Madeline Rogers – Baldwin High School
2007: Patrick Kuhn – Salina Central High School
2006: Andrew Toburen – Cair Paravel Latin School, Topeka

POL Media Release Form
Kansas Regions

Region 1 ~ Regional Coordinator: Cynthia Roth / [email protected]

Atchison, Brown, Doniphan, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Leavenworth, Lyon, Marshall, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Johnson, Wyandotte

Region 2 ~ Regional Coordinator:  Codi Fenwick / [email protected]

Barton, Clay, Cloud, Cheyenne, Decatur, Dickinson, Ellis, Ellsworth, Gove, Graham, Geary, Jewell, Lincoln, Logan, Mitchell, Morris, Norton, Ottawa, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Republic, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Saline, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Thomas, Trego, Wallace, Washington

Region 3 ~ Regional Coordinator:  Stacy Chestnut / [email protected]

Barber, Butler, Chase, Clark, Comanche, Cowley, Edwards, Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Harper, Harvey, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Marion, McPherson, Meade, Morton, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Scott, Sedgwick, Seward, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Sumner, Wichita

Region 4 ~ Regional Coordinator:  Kayla Pruitt / [email protected]

Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson, Woodson