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Wisconsin Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a recitation contest for high school students supported by the Wisconsin Arts Board, The Poetry Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Prizes totaling more than $50,000 are awarded at the state and national competitions each year. The state champion and runner-up receive $200 and $100 respectively, plus awards of money to their school libraries. 

Wisconsin's 2013 State Champion is Nayeli Itehua, a Junior at Durand High School. The runner-up was Isabel Karp, J M Memorial High School, Madison.  

Wisconsin Public Radio's Jim Fleming emceed the March event held at the Pyle Center in Madison.  Max Garland, Wisconsin's Poet Laureate, Wendy Vardaman, Madison's Poet Laureate, and Oscar Mireles, a Madison poet and educator, judged the event.  Jacki Martindale is the program's state coordinator for the Wisconsin Arts Board.  The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation are the founders and national supporters for the contest.  All Wisconsin high schools are eligible to participate.  For more information, contact Martindale at jmpmartindale@gmail.com.

Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the State Arts Agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

The Wisconsin Arts Board is the state agency that nurtures creativity, cultivates expression, promotes the arts, supports the arts in education, stimulates community and economic development and serves as a resource for people of every culture and heritage. Since 1973, the Arts Board has supported artists and arts organizations with funds from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information on the Wisconsin Arts Board, please visit http://artsboard.wisconsin.gov.



General questions can be sent to Jacki Martindale.

National POL Website

What you can find on the national website

• Excellent anthology of poems for recitation including classic poems and modern poems, American and world poems, multi-ethnic poems, traditional and free verse.

• Teacher’s guide with rules for the contest, conducting the contest, and lesson plans.

• Videos of the best performances.

• Audio introduction to poetry with guide. Excellent for use in presenting the value of poetry and recitation in the classroom. A great way to start your poetry unit with recitations and instruction from poets, well-known actors, and others.

Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English

For more information attend our session at the Wisconsin Council of English Teachers fall convention to be held in Madison on October 10-11, 2013. See above for WCTE website.


Join WAB Mailing List

Please Consider...

You and/or your department are urged to integrate POL into your curriculum and classes this fall and winter. The teacher’s guide has lesson plans that will help you adapt the program for your needs. As an adjunct to a poetry unit for freshman or sophomore English, it offers hands-on work, work in groups, and oral presentation. The POL model also fits into speech, AP-English, creative writing and other classes. The national POL website has an in-depth on-line anthology of excellent poetry which will interest your students and enhance your poetry units.

If your school signs up for the program, we can arrange for workshops in your classes with poets on reading and writing poetry, oral interpretation, and other related topics. See time line for more information.

Time Line 2013-2014

  • September—November: Promote Poetry Out Loud in your school; discuss with your fellow Engish teachers; make plans to integrate POL activities and contest into your classroom and curriculum; discuss recruitment with speech and forensics teachers; discuss benefits with your administrators, stressing that the program will cost you virtually nothing. Contact Jacki Martindale, (jmpmartindale@gmail.com) state coordinator, to plan a no-cost poetry workshop in your school with a WI poet.
  • Wednesday, November 27, 2013:  Deadline for schools to register.  Email Martindale with lead teacher information (name, school, address, phone number, email address).
  • Second quarter-November—January (or earlier): Teach poetry units, hold poetry workshops, conduct classroom and/or school contests.
  • Monday, January 27, 2014: Deadline for school contests. Lead teachers inform regional coordinator (see below) and Martindale of the names and contact information of their two champions via e-mail.
  • Friday, February 14, 2014: Regional contests must be completed.
  • Monday, February 17, 2014:  Regional champion names must be submitted to Martindale via e-mail.
  • March 8, 2014: State Contest, Venue TBA by 10/1/2013.
  • April 28-30, 2014: Washington DC, National Contest. For more info on national POL: www.poetryoutloud.org.

*Dates are tentative


Regional borders are now informal as we continue to enlarge participation. Generally, schools will have a choice of which region they will participate in based proximity. General questions can be forwarded to Jacki Martindale (jmpmartindale@gmail.com).


Ways to Contribute

POL in Wisconsin needs funds to enhance scholarships for local, regional, and state champions. Right now the state champion and runner-up win $200 and $100 respectively with their schools receiving $500 and $300 respectively. The state champion and chaperone also are given an all-expenses-paid trip to the national contest in Washington, DC.

Help local contests with your time or donations at your local school’s contest.



Updated:  Tuesday, August 19, 2014