Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation competition that celebrates the power of the spoken word and a mastery of public speaking skills while cultivating self-confidence and an appreciation of students’ literary heritage as they take poetry from the page to the stage. The Huntington Theatre Company supports high schools as they stage classroom and school-wide competitions, and then hosts semi-final and state final competitions for the winners. In 2010-2011, a record 19,000 students from high schools in 78 towns participated. The Massachusetts winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC next spring to compete in the national finals. The Huntington facilitates the Massachusetts competition with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Since its inception seven years ago, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate both classic and contemporary poetry.
“Poetry Out Loud creates an incredibly powerful sense of community in our school,” says Burlington High School English teacher Benjamin Lalley. “For weeks after the competition, I still hear students telling each other, ‘You did a great job. You really knocked that one out.’ From performers to student athletes to ESL students, everyone gets engaged in our school-wide celebration of poetry.”
“The Huntington Theatre Company makes it so easy for our school to participate,” says Malden High School English teacher Jen Clapp. “They provide us with training, materials, poetry anthologies, sample lesson plans, and ideas for how to make the competition all our own. Every time our students have participated in the Final round, they’ve felt so celebrated and supported.”
About Poetry Out Loud: poetryoutloud.org
Recitation and performance are major new trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music. Poetry Out Loud builds on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theatre into the English class.
The NEA and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with state arts agencies to support the expansion of Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Huntington sponsor the Massachusetts contest; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation sponsor the competition on the national level.
Learn more about Poetry Out Loud at huntingtontheatre.org/pol.
Have you particiapted in Poetry Out Loud? Do you have a favorite poem to recite?