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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. 

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.

Jacki Martindale is the program's state coordinator for the Wisconsin Arts Board.  All Wisconsin high schools are eligible to participate.  For more information, contact Martindale at jmpmartindale@gmail.com.

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


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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 2015-2016

  • 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.
  • Tuesday, December 1, 2015:  Deadline for schools to register.  Lead teachers at schools signup with the state coordinator and regional coordinators to participate in POL ’15-’16. Email Martindale with lead teacher information (name, school, address, phone number, email address).  Lead teachers will supply number of students and teachers expected to participate.
  • Second quarter-November—January (or earlier): Teach poetry units, hold poetry workshops, conduct classroom and/or school contests.
  • Monday, January 25, 2016: 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. (Some schools with large student participation over 200 students may enter three with permission of the state
  • Friday, February 19, 2016: Regional contests must be completed and names of regional champs must be forwarded to the state coordinator.
  • Tuesday, February 23, 2016:  Regional champions must be registered for the state contest by this date. 
  • Saturday, March 12, 2016: State Contest to be held in Madison.
  • May 2 - 4, 2016: 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:  Wednesday, January 13, 2016