The Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of Arkansas Heritage, has partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to encourage students to learn poetry and develop real-world skills. Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a free, high school program that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about poetry through memorization and recitation. The program helps students build self-confidence, develop public-speaking skills, learn literary history and compete for more than $20,000 at the national level.
There are three parts to the competition: school level, state level and national level. The school competitions will be held between Aug. 2021 and Feb. 1, 2022. The school-level winners will represent their schools at the state finals on March 11, 2022.
Prizes for the state level winner include $200 cash and an all-expense-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C. along with a $500 cash stipend for their school to purchase poetry materials. The national level winners will receive a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends awarded during the finals. A $20,000 award will go to the National Champion, a $10,000 award for 2nd place and a $5,000 award for 3rd place. Awards of $1,000 will go to students who place 4th through 12th.
Schools interested in getting their students involved must register with the Arkansas Arts Council using the School Entry form. Homeschools and organizations with interested high school students (9th-12th) may enter to compete in Poetry Out Loud as well.