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Poetry Out Loud

Participation in Poetry Out Loud begins at the classroom level around the country. Teachers engage students through instruction in poetry and performance and organize contests involving one or more classes. Winners advance to the state finals, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, D.C. Contestants choose and learn about poems from an extensive online anthology of classical and contemporary poetry while mastering public speaking skills as well as building self confidence.

Plans are underway for Vermont’s 2020-2021 virtual contest in March and the National competition in the spring.

Read about the 2019-2020 competition on our blog.

2020-2021 Program

December 15, 2020 original poetry submission deadline
December 31, 2020 school registration deadline
February 11, 2021 school competition deadline
February 15, 2021 student champion registration deadline
February 26, 2021 video submission deadline, poem 1 & poem 2 (video submission tips)
March 4, 2021 video submission deadline, poem 3
March 15, 2021 Competition Showcase (virtual)
Spring 2021 national event (virtual)




State Competition Showcase

The state competition showcase will be aired at 7 p.m., March 15 on Vermont PBS OVEE platform. RVSP here to receive details and a reminder email about Vermont Poetry Out Loud 2021 online screening event. One recitation video from each student will be aired, and our panel of six judges will also participate. This year’s champion and runner-up will be announced, and participants with the five highest cumulative scores will be recognized. The OVEE platform allows for real-time chat during the event, so be sure to tune in! A recording of the event will be provided later on the Arts Council’s YouTube channel.

closed captioning


Closed captioning will be provided on the OVEE platform.

accessibility questions

Please address questions regarding accessibility to Michele Bailey, 504/ADA coordinator, Vermont Arts Council,;  802.828.3294. Voice and relay calls welcome.


Classroom Resources

The national Poetry Out Loud website holds recitation tipslesson plans and activitiescommon core standards and more. The POL 2020-2021 Teachers Guide includes a sample class schedule, tips for organizing local contests, optional scoring rubrics, accessibility awareness, and publicity tips.

The Poetry Out Loud Anthology is a list of poems eligible for POL competition, updated yearly; searchable by poem name or by poet name. Other recommended anthologies include The Poetry Foundation's online collection, Billy Collins’ Poetry 180 Project, Canada’s Poetry in Voice, or the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day (receive a new poem to explore by email every day). We have also prepared these video submission tips for students.

Poetry Out Loud supports the proficiency-based learning movement happening across the state. Listed in this document—"Proficiency-based Learning and Poetry Out Loud"—are English Language Arts proficiencies and transferrable skills targeted by Poetry Out Loud.

Visit the Vermont Poetry Out Loud Archive and PBS Resources to see previously recorded state championships and explore other local poetry resources.

The Original Poetry Awards

For the second year, the Council is partnering with the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center's Scholastic Writing Awards program to hold the Original Poetry Awards. Any student from a school participating in Poetry Out Loud may submit at least one original poem for consideration. All work should be entered in the category of Poetry. Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of Vermont poets. There is no cost to participate.

Poems should be submitted by the December 15 deadline; two pieces of student writing will be recognized March 5. Find more information on the Scholastic Writing Awards website.

Read the winners of the 2020 Original Poetry Awards.

Poetry Workshops

poetry recitation workshops

The Arts Council funds visiting artist workshops led by dynamic teaching artists in classrooms each year. These visits can inspire students to take positive risks, hone their performance skills, and engage in a new way. The Council aims to fund workshops for any school that applies. Funds are limited, however; register and apply at your earliest convenience.

creative writing workshops

To support students in the writing process for the Original Poetry Awards, the Council offers in-school and virtual creative writing workshops with local poets. If you are interested in bringing a poet into your school for a two to three day residency, contact Troy Hickman by email, or indiciate your interest in the school registration form. These workshops are a great way to support students in crafting poems both for submission and for personal satisfaction.

this year's writing workshop facilitators

James Crews

Award-winning poet James Crews offers opportunities via videos and Zoom meetings for students to explore poetry and writing. Through discussion of poems and interactive exercises they can complete in class, James invites students to use poetry as a tool for self-expression and to practice various aspects of the writing process, including revision. If you’re interested in weaving more poetry and writing into your curriculum, you can request the initial video offering from James, and he will share that with you. You may then request a follow-up class visit held via Zoom, during which James will create a welcoming space for students to create and share their own original writing. VT Humanities recently filmed James at Jamaica State Park as part of the "Words in the Woods" program, available online.


Geof Hewitt

Geof Hewitt offers recitation workshops and multi-day writing workshops. Geof has been writing poems since he was a teenager, and has been a VAC teaching artist since the 1970s. He has published four books of his own poems and three books on strategies for teaching writing. Geof is active throughout Vermont promoting poetry slams and bringing his energy into the classroom, helping students produce and deliver their own unique poems. VT Humanities recently filmed Geof at Elmore State Park as part of the "Words in the Woods" program, available online.

Thank You!

Poetry Out Loud is supported in part by a generous grant from the George W. Mergens Foundation and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.