Poetry Out Loud


In order to ensure the safety and health of participating students and staff, the 2021 POL National Finals will be held virtually in lieu of holding them on-site in Washington D.C. as previously planned. This decision is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and General Counsel for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The 2021 New Mexico State Final will be presented as a recorded zoom event.

We strongly encourage teachers and organizers at all contest levels to hold virtual competitions for the 2020-2021 POL season. This appeal is made to ensure the safety and well-being of students, parents, teachers, and everyone involved with POL.

For the past 15 years more than 13,000 high school students across New Mexico have participated in the Poetry Out Loud state recitation competitions, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and The Poetry Foundation. New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, invites your high school to participate.

The first ten districts to confirm participation will be included in the state finals competition.

How Do I Get My School Involved?

The deadline to register your school is Friday, October 9, 2020. If you would like to participate, please register here for the 2020 - 2021 Poetry Out Loud state competition.Google Doc If you need more information, contact our office at 505-827-6490

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 900 poems.

New Mexico Arts offers workshops to work directly with students and/or teachers to help them understand and recite poetry. This opportunity is only available for participating schools and districts. This year the workshops will be virtual and, as always, at no cost to schools.

What Is The Timeline?

Participating schools will implement the program from August 2020 through mid-February 2021 to prepare for the state finals on March 14, 2021, in Santa Fe.

Where applicable, district-wide competitions will be held to select a winner to represent the district at the state finals.

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.

2020 Poetry Out Loud Competitors

2020 Poetry Out Loud Competitors. Ashley Turner Photographer

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. 2021 TRAVEL TBD. 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 his or her 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.