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.

Penny Parsons is the program's state coordinator for the Wisconsin Arts Board. All Wisconsin high schools are eligible to participate. For more information, contact Ms. Parsons.

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 our website.

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 9-12 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 Poetry Out Loud 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 on reading and writing poetry, oral interpretation, and other related topics. See time line for more information.

Due to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 Pandemic, and current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), teachers and organizers at all contest levels are strongly encouraged to hold virtual competitions for the 2020-2021 Poetry Out Loud (POL) season. For guidance regarding POL virtual competitions, please reference the​ POL Virtual Competitions and Filming ​Requirements 2020-21.

2020-2021 Timeline

  • Fall 2020: POL Coordinator is in touch with teachers and coordinators throughout the state.        

  • December 1, 2020: Lead teachers at schools sign-up with the State Coordinator and regional coordinators to participate in POL 2020-2021. Lead teachers will supply number of students and teachers expected to participate.

  • January 8, 2021: Regional coordinators set the time and place for regional competitions and inform POL State Coordinator Penny Parsons and lead teachers that day.

  • January 25, 2021: Lead teachers register two school contest winners with regional and state coordinator. Those school champs must memorize 2 poems for the regional contest. (Regional winners will need three poems for state.) School champs may wish to start memorizing a third poem.

  • February 12, 2021: Regional contest must be completed; names of regional champs and their schools with student email addresses must be forwarded to state coordinator.

  • February 19: Regional champions must be registered with Penny Parsons with the order and names of the three poems for the state contest.

  • March 6, 2021: STATE FINALS to be held: UW-Madison Pyle Center auditorium.

  • 2021 National Finals will take place virtually in Spring 2021. T​he 2021 POL National Semifinals will take place on Sunday, May 2nd and the 2021 POL National Finals will take place on Thursday, May 27th, 2021. Both will be video submission-based competitions and will be streamed on arts.gov.  

​For more info on national POL: www.poetryoutloud​​.org​.​


The geographic reach of WI POL extends across the state with four regions covering Northwest
WI centered in Eau Claire, Northeast WI in Green Bay area, South Central WI in Madison, and
Southeast WI in the southern Milwaukee area. We have schools participating from Maple (northwestern city, just south of Superior) to Burlington (southwestern city), from Arcadia (western, on the Mississippi) to eastern Green Bay.

Poetry Out Loud Coordinator/Contractor:
Dr. Penny Parsons
5413 Hammersly Road
Madison, WI  56711

Wisconsin Arts Board Contact:
George Tzougros
P.O. Box 8690
Madison, WI 53708-8690

Regional borders are 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 Penny Parsons.

Suburban Milwaukee, Southeast Wisconsin Shore: Honore Schiro, Brookfield Central HS, 16900 Gebhardt Rd, Brookfield, WI 53005

Urban Milwaukee: TBA

Capital Region, Southwest /South Central WI: Penny Parsons, 608-274-0087, Madison, WI

Northwest Central Region, Eau Claire/Chippewa and surrounding Counties: Ella Shaw, Durand High School (retired), Eau Claire, WI, 715-279-3121

North Central, Rhinelander, Wausau, and Steven Point: TBA

Lake Superior Region, Northern WI: Karen Duffy, Northwoods School, Minong

Northeast Region, Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh: Lois Sauberlich, Wrightstown High School


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.​​