National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa and Poetry Foundation President Robert Polito announce the 2014 National Finals of Poetry Out Loud, April 29-30, 2014

Join Poetry Out Loud online via live webcast, viewing parties, and social media


53 high school students on stage

Fifty-three Poetry Out Loud Champions at the 2013 National Finals in Washington, DC.  Photo by James Kegley.

WASHINGTON, DC – The end of National Poetry Month marks the start of the nation’s largest youth poetry recitation competition, as 53 high school students from across the country gather in Washington, DC, on April 29-30, 2014 for the National Finals of Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. These young competitors advanced from a field of some 365,000 students who tested their skills in poetry recitation in more than 2,300 schools nationwide. The top finalists and their schools will receive $50,000 in awards. Neda Ulaby, arts & culture reporter for National Public Radio, will host the Wednesday evening finals. Guest judges for the National Finals include poets Ming Di, Valerie Martínez, novelist Tope Folarin, Poets House Director Lee Briccetti, and actor/performer Chris Sarandon.   

Now in its ninth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The program encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high school students across the country. Poetry Out Loud gives students an opportunity to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. 

The 53 champions will gather at the Poetry Out Loud semifinals on Tuesday, April 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University, 730 21st Street NW, Washington, DC. Nine finalists will advance to the National Finals, also held at Lisner Auditorium, on Wednesday, April 30, from 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.

“Since the first national Poetry Out Loud contest in 2006, more than two million high school students, and tens of thousands of teachers at thousands of high schools have taken this program and made it their own,” said NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa. “We are delighted to work in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, with state arts agencies, local arts organizations, schools, and teachers to help students discover the art of poetry.”

To memorize and recite a great poem of the past or present,” said Robert Polito, president of the Poetry Foundation, “is to ‘own’ it in the most personal way—in your body, your breath, and your spirit. Recitation is obviously an interpretive act, but also creative, and possibly even self-transformative.”

Live Webcast and Viewing Parties

Not in Washington, DC, but still want to see the competition? You can watch the entire semifinals and finals through a live, one-time only webcast. Or gather fellow poetry fans for a Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing Party. Register at and find tips on hosting your party, promotional materials, and details on other viewing parties around the country. Follow the Poetry Out Loud National Finals online on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POL14. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit or call 202-682-5606.

Poetry Out Loud Partnerships

The National Finals are the culmination of efforts by many partners. As national partners, the NEA and the Poetry Foundation have supported the administration of the program, created educational materials, and funded awards for both the state and national finals. State arts agencies have implemented the program in high schools nationwide and organized state competitions, often in collaboration with local arts organizations. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals are administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Schools interested in registering for the 2014-2015 Poetry Out Loud contest should contact their state arts agency. More information is available at

Educational Materials, Contests, and Awards

Poetry Out Loud offers educators free, standards-based curriculum materials, which include poetry anthologies containing more than 800 classic and contemporary poems, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download these resources at

Using a pyramid structure, Poetry Out Loud started with classroom and schoolwide activities and contests between September 2013 and February 2014. State contests were held by mid-March; the 53 champions of contests in every state, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC, compete at the National Finals. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will present $50,000 in awards and school stipends for the purchase of poetry books. Awards include $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists. In total, Poetry Out Loud will award more than $100,000 to state- and national-level winners and their schools.

About Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation develops partnerships and programs that reinforce artists’ capacity to create and present work, advance access to and participation in the arts, and promote a more sustainable arts ecology.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs. For more information, visit


Closed Captioning graphic  (Closed Captioned)


 sign interpretation graphic  (Sign Language)


NEA Contact: Sally Gifford, 202-682-5606

Poetry Foundation Contact: Elizabeth Burke-Dain, 312-799-8016