Wisconsin Poetry Out Loud

​​​Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a recitation contest for high school students that provides a highly adaptable context in which students can experience poetry at a very intensive level.  It enhances their research skills and expands their presentation confidence.  Since POL operates in a bottom-to-top format, it may be worked into a regular classroom setting or be operated as an extra-curricular program.

After considering the poetic options available, students select poems, delve into the authors' and poems' backgrounds, memorize them, and create their own intuitive presentation style for the pieces.  After the original competitions (classroom or school-wide), the highest scorers will compete with their counterparts from other high schools in that area.  Next, those winners progress to the POL State Meet.  Finally, each state sends their representative to the National Finals in Washington, D. C.  The Wisconsin champion will receive a $200 stipend plus an all-expenses-paid trip (along with an adult chaperone) to the National Finals. Their respective school's library will also receive $500 to purchase poetry materials. The State's runner-up will receive a $100 stipend and their school library will receive $200.

Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is administered in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Arts Board (WAB), and managed by POL State Coordinator Dr. Penny Parsons.  All Wisconsin high schools are eligible to participate.

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.

2022-2023 Timeline

  • Autumn, 2022: POL Coordinator is in touch with teachers and coordinators throughout the state.        

  • December 1, 2022: Lead teachers at schools sign-up with the State Coordinator and regional coordinators to participate in POL 2022-2023. Lead teachers will supply number of students and teachers expected to participate.

  • January 6, 2023: Regional coordinators set the time and place for regional competitions and inform POL State Coordinator Penny Parsons and Region's lead teachers of the date, location, and agenda.

  • January 27, 2023: Lead teachers register their school's highest-scoring contestants with regional coordinator. Those school champions must prepare two poems for the regional contest (regional winners will need three poems for State). School champions may wish to start preparing a third poem.

  • February 10, 2023: Regional contest must be completed. Names of regional champs and their schools (with student email addresses) must be forwarded to State Coordinator.

  • February 17​, 2023: Regional champions must register with State Coordinator the order and names of the three poems for the state contest.

  • ​March 4, 2023: STATE CONTEST - Location:  Pyle Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison auditorium

  • March 23, 2023: Deadline for state champions and chaperones to register for the National Finals

  • May 8-10, 2023: NATIONAL FINAL CONVENTION (Washington D. C.)​

​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

Wisconsin Arts Board Contact:
George Tzougros

Southeast Regional Coordinator

Marjorie Struck
Riverside University High School
2822 N Frederick Avenue
Milwaukee, WI  53211
(815) 685-7955

Northwest Regional Coordinator

Angela Roleson
Altoona High School
711 7th Street West
Altoona,  WI  54720
(715) 839-6031 Ext 414

Northeast Regional Coordinator

Paul Wiegel
Ripon High School
850 Tiger Drive
Ripon,  WI  54971

Capitol Regional Coordinator

Keri Hornung
La Follette High School
702 Pflaum Road
Madison,  WI  53716-2167
(608) 444-5622​