Connecticut Humanities opens registration for Poetry Out Loud contest

The Connecticut Office of the Arts, in partnership with Connecticut Humanities, present the 12th annual Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. During the 2015-2016 school year, more than 7,000 students from a record 43 Connecticut high schools participated in Poetry Out Loud.

Connecticut high schools can participate in classroom and school-wide poetry contests during the 2016-17 academic year, with the winners advancing to a state competition on March 4, 2017, at Cheney Hall in Manchester. The Connecticut State Champion will advance to the National Finals, which will take place April 24-26, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Emily Saunders, a senior at RHAM High School in Hebron, represented Connecticut at the 2016 Poetry Out Loud finals. As state champion, Saunders won $500 for her school library to use to purchase poetry books. She was one of more than 317,000 students from more than 2,300 high schools nationwide who took part in the Poetry Out Loud program during the last school year. Click here and here to watch Saunders’s performances at the 2016 National Finals.

“There are people there with you every step of the way to teach you, to help you learn about poetry,” said Saunders. “It’s not just about competing and winning; you get much more out of the experience and it’s so much fun.”

The Poetry Out Loud curriculum includes one-to-three weeks of classroom time, and can be incorporated with existing poetry lessons. The Connecticut Office of the Arts and Connecticut Humanities provide free professional development workshops for teachers and opportunities for students to work with professional poets and performance coaches in the classroom. Click here to see Poetry Out Loud in action in Connecticut.

Additionally, the NEA and the Poetry Foundation provide free standards-based curriculum materials for use by participating schools. These materials include an online poetry anthology containing more than 800 classic and contemporary poems, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, posters, and video and audio on the art of recitation. These resources are available at

The deadline for Connecticut high schools to register for Poetry Out Loud is Oct. 14, 2016. Teachers should visit to register. More information about Poetry Out Loud in Connecticut may be found at or by contacting program manager Scott Wands at or 860-685-7579.

Poetry Out Loud awards

Students who participate in the official Poetry Out Loud program may be eligible to compete in the state and national finals in 2016‐2017. Each state champion will receive $200 and an all‐expenses‐paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete for the national championship. The state champion’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner‐up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in cash and school stipends at the national finals, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud national champion. Since Poetry Out Loud’s debut in 2005, the program has reached more than 3 million students and 45,000 teachers in 10,000 schools nationwide. For more information on Poetry Out Loud, visit .

About Connecticut Humanities

Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and administrator of the Connecticut Center for the Book, funds, creates, and collaborates on hundreds of cultural programs across Connecticut each year. Visit .