NEA Arts Magazine

Where Are They Now?

Catching Up with POL Champs

Launched in the spring of 2006, Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest (POL) has been inspiring a love of poetry in high school students across the country ever since. A collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the state arts agencies, the program aims to foster a love of poetry in classrooms across the country. The lively and rewarding experience has quickly grown to include more than 365,000 students annually.

So how does it work? Students memorize and learn to recite poems selected from the POL anthology and then compete at the school, local, and state levels. Participants are evaluated by a panel of judges on a range of criteria from articulation and accuracy to evidence of understanding of the poems. Each state’s champion then travels on an all expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to compete for the national championship, which will take place this year from May 13-15, 2012.

We spoke with five past POL State Champions—three of whom went on to claim the national crown—to find out what they’re up to now, what they learned from POL, and, of course, if they still remember their poems.