Poetry Out Loud

A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies, 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 in Poetry Out Loud. Through Poetry Out Loud, students read, memorize, and recite classic and contemporary poems.

The program starts in the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Winners then may advance to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the national finals. Awards and placements are determined solely by the judges’ scores based on the Poetry Out Loud Evaluation Criteria.

Poetry Out Loud not only introduces students to a wide range of poems, but results in poetry becoming a deeply ingrained part of these young people’s lives, helping them understand the true power and weight that words can hold.

Poetry Out Loud can also help students improve writing and analytical skills, master public speaking, and build self-confidence—all critical skills for young people to develop.


The Lake County Arts Council is currently recruiting for the 2024 Poetry Out Loud competition. Local high schools, including independent and alternative schools, are invited to participate.
Poetry Out Loud (POL), in partnership with the California Arts Council, the National Endowment of the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and California Poetry Out Loud, is a nationwide program introducing students to the depth, history, and performance aspects of poetry, helping students to master public speaking skills and build self-confidence. This national arts education program encourages the study of both classic and contemporary 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 across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.
The Lake County Arts Council has administered Poetry Out Loud since 2007. This program has traditionally been used by both English and performing arts teachers, however this choice is up to each school and their respective teachers. LCAC provides support to participating schools and teachers by providing ongoing informational meetings, all necessary materials including lesson plans and teacher’s guides, and Poet Coaches to work with students if needed.
The program culminates every year with school competitions complete with a judging panel and cash prizes provided by the Arts Council. Champions from each participating school will be invited to perform publicly and participate in a countywide competition where they can compete for the chance to represent Lake County at the state level. State winners will move on to compete nationally. Every level of the competition has an opportunity for both notoriety and cash prizes.
The countywide competition will be held in early 2024. States hold their competitions by mid-March. Following the state finals, the National Finals will be held in spring of 2024. Any Lake County student currently enrolled in grades 9–12 are eligible to compete, whether enrolled in a public, private, alternative, or homeschool. Non-school organizations, such as after school clubs, libraries, or nonprofit organizations, may also choose to participate in Poetry Out Loud. LCAC is asking the community to encourage schools, teachers, and students to participate in this valuable program.
To participate or submit questions, contact the Lake County Arts Council Poetry Out Loud Coordinator Jordan O’Halloran johalloran@lakearts.org before December 2023.

Congratulations to the 2022 California Poetry Out Loud Champion!

We are proud to announce that our very own Calliope Klemme (they/them), also known as Sophia Callie, placed 3rd place in the state competition! Congratulations to Callie and their teacher Timothy Barnes! Callie is a senior at Clear Lake High School in Lakeport. They recited three poems for the state competition: Flowers by Cynthia Zarin, Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde, and The Hospital Window by James L. Dickey. This is the first time Lake County has placed in the state Poetry Out Loud competition since our local program began in 2007! ⭐️

Read about the state finals here: https://arts.ca.gov/press-release/mia-ronn-of-los-angeles-county-is-the-2022-california-poetry-out-loud-state-champion/

Congratulations to our 2022 Lake County Poetry Out Loud Winners!

Sophia (Callie) Klemme of Clear Lake High School is our county champion! She will move on to represent Lake County in the California State Poetry Out Loud Competition with a chance to move on to Nationals!

Alexander Fordham from Kelseyville High School placed 2nd!

Lara Patterson from Middletown High School placed 3rd!

Maria Sanchez from Upper Lake High School was our runner up!

Congratulations students! You all did amazing! Special thanks to all of the incredible teachers who made this happen.

Did you miss the 2022 Lake County Virtual County Competition? View it on the Soper-Reese Theatre‘s YouTube page! The Soper Reese Theatre hosts our competition every year. This year due to COVID, we held the competition online but our county winner still had the chance to record her State submission at the theatre. Congratulations again to Sophia Callie Klemme, our 2022 County Champion! She submitted her performance videos for the the California State Competition this week and the winner will be announced on March 11th!