Record 43 Connecticut schools participating in Poetry Out Loud

A record 43 Connecticut high schools have registered to participate in the 11th annual Poetry Out Loud (POL) national recitation contest, according to the Connecticut Office of the Arts, which stages the program in partnership with Connecticut Humanities.

Supported by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Of the 43 schools, nine are new to the program this year. From Lower Fairfield County, participating schools include: Darien High School; Greens Farms Academy; Greenwich High School; Staples High School; Westhill High School; and Wilton High School. For a complete list of participating high schools, click here.)

The schools are now holding classroom workshops with visiting poet-teachers to prepare students for classroom and then school-wide poetry contests. The winners advance to regional and then a state competition on March 15, 2016. The Connecticut State Champion will advance to the National Finals, which will take place from May 2-4, 2016, in Washington, D.C.   

Connecticut’s 2015 POL Champion was a finalist in the 2015 National Finals last April. Owen Elphick, now a senior at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, was one of more than 365,000 students from 2,300 high schools nationwide who took part in the Poetry Out Loud program during the last school year.

“Many students who've never given poetry a second thought or who shy away from public speaking now carry a poem in their hearts and a bit more confidence on stage,” said Denise Abercrombie, a teacher and English department chair at E.O. Smith High School. “Poetry Out Loud brings poetry alive for our students!”

The NEA and the Poetry Foundation provide state arts agencies with free, standards‐based curriculum materials. These 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

Poetry Out Loud Awards  

Students who participate in the official Poetry Out Loud program are eligible to compete in the state and National Finals in 2015‐16. Each state champion will receive $200 and an all‐expenses‐paid trip to Washington, D.C. to enable him or her to compete for the national championship. The state champion’s school also receives 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.  For further information on Poetry Out Loud, visit

About Connecticut Humanities

Connecticut Humanities is a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds, creates and collaborates on hundreds of cultural programs across Connecticut each year. It is headquartered in Middletown. Learn more by visiting

About Office of the Arts

The Connecticut Office of the Arts is dedicated to making the arts accessible to all state residents and visitors. The office is funded by the State of Connecticut and the National Endowment for the Arts and receives support from other public and private sources. Learn more by visiting