Poetry Out Loud Contests in Massachusetts

Spotlights shine on eager students’ faces, illuminating them only half as brightly as the words they speak. Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation and encourages high school students’ oratory skills and confidence. The official website for Poetry Out Loud has a number of resources, including video examples of strong recitations from past contestants. You might recognize an outstanding student performance of a poem by one of Mass Poetry’s own bloggers, Rhina P. Espaillat! The energy in the videos is infectious, as each student boldly embodies the poem in their words and demeanors. It is immediately clear that students inevitably come away from this experience with confidence and an understanding of the power of the spoken word.

Last year 19,000 Mass. students participated

Wilmene Hercule, Poetry Out Loud’s Massachusetts State Champion in 2010:

On the larger scale, Poetry Out Loud benefits more than just competing students. The Massachusetts semi-final and state finals are hosted by the Huntington Theatre Company. Prior to these competitions, Huntington sets up classroom and school-wide competitions to help cultivate the students’ skills. In addition to these contest the Huntington Theatre Company supports teachers with training, materials, poetry anthologies and sample lesson plans to help prepare students for participating in Poetry out Loud. Last year’s Massachusetts competition saw 19,000 students participate. With the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Huntington organizes the completion as a way of providing the next generation of voices with an opportunity to be heard. The process has transformed individuals as well as entire schools.


The student who wins the Massachusetts final will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, where they will compete in the national finals. While it is too late for students to sign up for 2012 competition, students, teachers and the interested public can still support Commonwealth students at the following regional competitions:


Framingham (Framingham Temple Association) Saturday, March 3 at 9:30 am

Boston (Calderwood Pavilion) Saturday, March 3 at 9:30 am

Springfield (Springfield Community Music School) Sunday, March 4 at 10:00

Yarmouth (Cultural Center of Cape Cod) Sunday, March 4 at 1:00


State Final Competition will be held at the Old South Meeting House on Sunday, March 11 at 9:30.