Poetry Out Loud


"Poetry, and art in general, means showing up with your best self. And whoever that may be, that in and of itself is beautiful. The more that we can bring our authentic selves, with hope, into the moment the more that moment will show up for us."
 - Amanda Gorman, youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history


 What is Poetry Out Loud?

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated. Poetry Out Loud is presented through a partnership with New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and Poetry Foundation.

The program starts in the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Winners then may advance to the regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the national finals.


Timeline 2023-24

Participating schools can implement the program following their registration with New Mexico Arts. Below is a suggested timeline. Schools and organizations can go at their own pace as long as competition winners are submitted by January 26, 2024. State Finals take place on March 3, 2024, in Santa Fe.

  • November 3, 2023: Deadline for schools and organizations to register for 2024 Poetry Out Loud

  • November & December: participants students are identified, work begins in classrooms/clubs/organizations), students select poems for memorization and recitation.

  • January: School/Organization competitions are held. Where applicable, district-wide competitions will be held to select a winner to represent the district at the state finals.
  • January 26, 2024: School/District winners reported to state coordinator and student poetry selections for state finals are due.

  • March 3, 2024: New Mexico State Finals will be held in Santa Fe at the St. Francis Auditorium inside of the New Mexico Museum of Art.

  • April 30-May 2, 2024: National Finals will take place in Washington DC.


How Do I Get My School/Organization Involved?

Participating in the Poetry Out Loud program is FREE for both schools/organizations and students. An individual teacher, a group of teachers, the English or Theatre department or club, or an entire school decides to offer this opportunity to students. All materials and resources are provided free of charge.

In order to compete, schools and organizations must register by Friday, November 3, 2023, with the New Mexico Poetry Out Loud Coordinator. Click HERE  for an online registration form.   

Technical Assistance to launch your Poetry Out Loud program is available upon request.

For more information or have a registration form mailed to you, contact New Mexico Arts Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, Kevin Lenkner at (505) 412-5791 or kevin.lenkner@dca.nm.gov


How Do I Teach It?

The NEA and The Poetry Foundation have created standards-based curriculum materials for participating schools to use. The Poetry Out Loud website (www.poetryoutloud.org) offers resources for teachers including a teachers' forum and the expanded online anthology of 1,100 poems. More links available on FORMS & RESOURCES left sidebar menu. 

The program is designed to take one to three weeks to implement in a classroom setting. Many teachers who have participated used Poetry Out Loud in addition to, or as an extension of, their existing curriculum.


State and National Prizes

At the state level, the first-place winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship. The state champion’s school library will receive a $500 stipend toward the purchase of poetry books. The runner-up will receive $100, and $200 for their school library. The national competition awards a total of $50,000 in prizes and school stipends at the national finals. The national champion will receive a $20,000 prize.


Poetry Ourselves New Mexico

Poetry Ourselves New Mexico

Back by popular demand!

2024 Poetry Ourselves New Mexico is a statewide original poetry competition for students in grades 9-12. This is an opportunity for students to share their written poetry with the possibility of publication in New Mexico's first Poetry Ourselves New Mexico Anthology. Students are encouraged to submit one original poem, typed and no longer than 50 lines. Poems may focus on any topic, but students should remember that winning entries may be presented to the public. This creative writing competition does not require a performance or recitation. Poetry Ourselves New Mexico compliments the New Mexico Poetry Out Loud recitation program enhancing opportunities for students to study and perform masterworks of poetry.

Online submission of poem and entry form are due January 15, 2024

Download Poetry Ourselves New Mexico Guidelines

2024 Poetry Ourselves Entry Form

For more information contact New Mexico Arts Poetry Oourselves Coordinator, Kevin Lenkner at (505) 412-5791 or kevin.lenkner@dca.nm.gov


2023 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud

We are pleased to present this year's ten state finalists from the 2023 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest. New Mexico Poetry Out Loud is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. It is produced and directed in New Mexico by the state arts agency New Mexico Arts, in accordance with our agreement with the Endowment.


Rutendo Musharu:  UWC-USA, Montezuma, Teacher - Kate Riberio (STATE CHAMPION)

Robin Blakeman: Public Academy for Performing Arts, Albuquerque, Teacher - Aimee Wray (SECOND PLACE)

Esther Heerema: Arrowhead Park Early College High School, Las Cruces, Teacher -Kernie Zimmerman

Livi Lent-Koop: V. Sue Cleveland High School, Rio Rancho, Teacher - Daniel Schneider

Michael Arrellin:  Wagon Mound High School, Wagon Mound, Teacher - Julie Book

Rawan Lilo: Albuquerque School of Excellence, Albuquerque, Teacher - Ma. Gloria M.King

Finley Altman: La Cueva High School, Albuquerque, Teacher - Rosemary Hood

Rutendo Musharu, 2023 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud Champion

Jessica Helen Lopez: Event Coordinator

Michelle Laflamme-Childs: Femcee

Kevin Lenkner, Program Coordinator

Photos by Light Benders Visuals

See the 2023 Photo Gallery here

"Although my plans are not clear cut, I hope to find a way to find a career that incorporates my creativity and art to help heal other people."
 - Vanessa Sosa, 2021 finalist, Arrowhead Park Early College High School, Las Cruces, NM