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Ohio Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest logo

Poetry Out Loud Announces New Improvements, Workshops, and Opens Registration


The Ohio Arts Council invites Ohio high school teachers to register now for the 2015-16 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, a free program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered by state arts agencies across the nation. Registration is free and open to all Ohio public, private, charter, parochial, and alternative schools, and to home school associations. 

Teachers are provided with free multimedia curriculum materials, training workshops, and the services of a Poetry Out Loud coordinator. The deadline to register your classroom is Tuesday, December 1, 2015.
Participating students compete by choosing poems to memorize and recite from a large online poetry anthology. Their recitations are scored in six categories using a national rubric. 

Poetry Out Loud has a pyramid structure, similar to a spelling bee, that begins with contests at the classroom level and culminates in the exciting National Finals in Washington, D.C., when state champions compete for a total of $50,000 in prize money. Last year in Ohio more than 8,000 students and 100 high school teachers and librarians participated in the program. 

Schools must be registered for the program in order for their champions to compete beyond the school level. High schools will be asked to complete their individual school contests and notify the OAC of the school winner by Monday, February 8th, 2016.


This year, in response to survey results and in keeping with the Ohio Arts Council leadership’s commitment to ongoing program development, Ohio Poetry Out Loud will introduce three semi-final contests and additional workshops outside of Columbus. Semi-finals will be held in Columbus, Cleveland, and Dayton/Springfield during the first week of March 2016. Semi-final contests will shorten the State Finals in Columbus to a half-day event, cut down on travel distance for most students and teachers, and make it easier to fit POL into busy calendars. 
Other program improvements include offering a certificate for CEU credit for teacher workshops, recording workshops and making them available online, offering an early winter webinar, and providing semi-final contestants with composite score reports. 
Poetry Out Loud will also be working to develop new regional partnerships this year as we explore the possibility of aligning our program with other states that use a regional model, which has been found to be the most effective approach to reaching teachers and students in all parts of the state.


Teacher training workshops are free and open to educators already registered for Poetry Out Loud and also to those who are interested in the program but are not yet ready to commit. The workshops are useful for both new and experienced Poetry Out Loud teachers and librarians. Workshop leaders will share their expertise on using Poetry Out Loud in the classroom and school, including how to organize a contest, engage students, and coach them toward their best performance. The POL coordinators will review contest rules, discuss the new judging criteria, and share plans for introducing semi-final contests this year. More workshops will be announced soon. 
Columbus Workshop 

Monday, October 26, 2015, 4:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Thurber House 77 Jefferson Avenue Columbus, Ohio, 43215 Workshop leaders include Jamie Foley and Hannah Stephenson. Mrs. Foley is head of the English department at Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS) and has participated in the POL program since 2006.

In its inaugural year, Mrs. Foley led CAHS student Jackson Hille to win first place at the national finals. Columbus poet and arts educator Hannah Stephenson was the guest poet at the 2014 POL State Finals and returned as a judge at the 2015 State Finals. 

Cleveland Workshop 
Tuesday, October 27, 2015, 4:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Branch of the Cleveland Public Library 1962 Stokes Blvd Cleveland, Ohio 44106 Jeanette Flood and Lee Chilcote will lead the Cleveland workshop. A longtime POL lead teacher at the Lyceum in South Euclid, Jeanette Flood has coached several students to top spots at the POL state finals. 
Poet, teacher, and journalist Lee Chilcote co-founded the Cleveland Inkubator, a free one day writers' workshop at the Cleveland Public Library, as well as Literary Cleveland, a new organization providing ongoing programming for writers and readers. 
Register for a workshop by contacting Katie Swett, POL’s state project coordinator, at 614-728-4481 or by email at Advanced registration encouraged but walk-ins are welcome.

Watch Sarah Binau of Bexley High School, the 2015 Poetry Out Loud state champion and a national finalist, recite Anne Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book.” Questions? contact the Poetry Out Loud project coordinator Katie Swett at or 614-728-4481.

The nation’s largest youth poetry recitation competition is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partneship with the Ohio Arts Council. The Poetry Out Loud program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry, master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and study their literary heritage.

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more about NEA.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


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