Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry – recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of rap music among youth. Poetry Out Loud invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

2017 Arizona State Champion Kellen Vu talks about his Poetry Out Loud experience

"All too soon, my English teacher beckoned me to the podium, but I was glued to my seat, desperately trying to remember how to breathe. I could already feel the stares piercing mercilessly through my soul. Then I recalled an adage my dad once told me: 'Nobody is brave every minute of every day; you only need five seconds of courage at a time to make the change you want to see.'"

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Getting Started with Arizona Poetry Out Loud

An overview of the Poetry Out Loud program in Arizona. This brochure includes a program description, ideas on how to implement Poetry Out Loud into your classroom, an easy to follow timeline, and award structure for winners at the local and national level. A sample class schedule and lesson plan give teachers an idea of the writing activities and curriculum available.


The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with the State Arts Agencies to bring the Poetry Out Loud (POL) program to all 50 states and US territories. In Arizona, Poetry Out Loud (POL), is administered by the Arizona Commission on the Arts in collaboration with POL Regional Partners.

Program Structure and Curriculum

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that begins at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. The curriculum for POL is designed to fit into a teacher’s busy schedule. The program takes place over the span of two to three weeks, according to each teacher’s interest and agenda, and does not require full class periods during that time. Poetry Out Loud satisfies most of the National Council of Teachers of English Language Arts Standards. In addition to memorizing and performing great poems, students have the opportunity to discuss poetry and – if the teacher wishes to use the supplemental lesson plans – to write poetry of their own.

State Prizes

Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, (with an adult chaperone) to compete at the National Finals. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. One runner-up in each state receives $100; his or her school receives $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

National Prizes

A total of $50,000 in scholarship awards and school stipends are awarded at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship award for the National Champion.

More Information

Visit the National Endowment for the Arts’ official Poetry Out Loud website for more information.

To learn out more about Arizona Poetry Out Loud, contact the Arizona Commission on the Arts at 602-771-6502 or by email at afreyermuth@azarts.gov.

The 2018 Arizona Poetry Out Loud school registration period is now closed.

For information on late registration, please contact Arizona Poetry Out Loud Coordinator Anastasia Freyermuth.

2017-2018 Arizona Poetry Out Loud Dates to Remember:

  • September, 2017 – School Registration Opens
  • October 31, 2017 – School Registration Closes
  • tbd – Deadline to hold school competitions

Competition Schedule

  • Central Region Competition tbd
  • Southern Region Competition tbd
  • Northern Region Competition tbd
  • Arizona State Finals tbd
  • POL National Finals
    April 23-25, 2018
    Washington, DC

Recent Updates

Poetry Out Loud Website

The For Teachers section of the official Poetry Out Loud website provides program and classroom resources for teachers.

Regional Partners

Arizona Poetry Out Loud Regional Partners are organizations with strong ties to their local literary and school communities, and are dedicated to creating opportunities for increased student and school involvement in the Poetry Out Loud program.

Northern and Central Regions Partner Organization

Phonetic Spit
Tomas Stanton

Southern Region Partner Organization

University of Arizona Poetry Center
Renee Angle, Program Coordinator

If you are unsure about your school’s region, or would like more information, please contact the Arizona Commission on the Arts at 602-771-6502 or info@azarts.gov.



The Poetry Out Loud website offers extensive learning tools, including eligible poetry for the competition, classroom ideas and teacher resources, and specific information about evaluation criteria.  It also contains a highly-useful audio guide that includes excerpts of famous actors and poets reciting poetry, a great way to learn about dramatic appropriateness and articulation.

The Poems and Performance section of the Poetry Out Loud website provides access to the online anthology and other resources for students.

Join Poetry Out Loud on Facebook.

Journals, Books and Websites (61 KB PDF) – Explore more poetry through these web-based poetry resources, print and electronic journals, books and more.

2017 Arizona Poetry Out Loud

The 2017 Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Finals returned to the downtown Phoenix studios of Arizona PBS.

2017 State Champion: Kellen Vu, Arizona School for the Arts (Phoenix)

2017 State Runners-Up:

2017 State Finals Judges: Ernesto L. Abeytia, Carly Bates, Angie Dell, Dr. Laura Tohe, Joy Young

2016 Arizona Poetry Out Loud

The 2016 Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Finals returned to the downtown Phoenix studios of Arizona PBS.

2016 State Champion: Hunter Hazelton, Betty Fairfax High School (Laveen)

2016 State Runners-Up: Deja Brown, Sonoran Science Academy (Tucson); Caitlin McCormick, The Gregory School (Tucson); and Sophie Weinzinger, Coconino High School (Flagstaff)

2016 State Finals Judges: Jia Oak Baker, Fatimah Halim, Leah Marché, Pamela Sterling, and Dr. Laura Tohe

2015 Arizona Poetry Out Loud

The 2015 Arizona State Finals were held at the Herberger Theater Center.

2015 State Champion: Zaskia Villa, Nogales High School, Nogales

2015 State Runners-Up: Lena Blackmon, University High School, Tucson; Jessica Han, Coconino High School, Flagstaff; and Adriana Hurtado, Tri-City College Prep, Prescott

2015 State Finals Judges: Carly Bates, Melissa Dunmore, Dr. Matthew Helmers, Melanie Madden and Kim Willey

2014 Arizona Poetry Out Loud

The 2014 Arizona State Finals were hosted by the University of Arizona Poetry Center and held at the Tucson Festival of Books.

2014 State Champion: Matthew Kaplan, Tesseract School, Phoenix

2014 State Runner-Up: Leah Weinzinger, Coconino High School, Flagstaff

2014 State Finals Judges: Shelley Cohn, Russ Kick, Pat McMahon and Seth Muller

2013 Arizona Poetry Out Loud

The 2013 Arizona State Finals were sponsored by ON Media Publications, hosted by Tania Katan and held at Eight, Arizona PBS and filmed for later broadcast.

2013 State Champion: Cassandra Valadez, Sunnyside High School, Tucson

2013 State Runner-Up: Nathan Poston, Glendale Preparatory, Glendale

2013 State Finals Judges: Korbi Adams, Roberto Bedoya, David Britton, Phyllis Bunch and Linda “Mac” Perlich

2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud

The 2012 Arizona State Finals were held at the Phoenix Center for the Arts and hosted by Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch.

2012 State Champion: Joshua Furtado, Tucson Magnet High School, Tucson

2012 State Runner-Up: India Parsons, Westview High School, Avondale

2012 State Finals Judges: Dr. Robert Breunig, Jaime Dempsey, Carole FitzPatrick, Charles Jensen, David Mittel and Kelly Nelson

2011 Arizona Poetry Out Loud

The 2011 Arizona State Finals were hosted by Eight, Arizona PBS and filmed for later broadcast.

2011 State Champion: Steffi McNerney, St. Gregory College Preparatory High School, Tucson

Interview with the 2011 State Champion

2011 State Runner-Up: Naomi Blackwell, Tucson High Magnet School, Tucson

2011 State Finals Judges: Alberto Rios, Beth Staples, Christopher Lane, Logan Phillips and Robert X. Planet

Eight, Arizona PBS State Finals Video and Student Interviews

For a complete history, images and other Arizona Poetry Out Loud promotional materials, please contact the Arizona Commission on the Arts at 602-771-6502 or by email at info@azarts.gov.

National Endowment for the Arts logo. Poetry Foundation Logo