By: Lindsay Laverty
Seton La-Salle students who are looking for opportunities to advance themselves in their literary careers, provide impressive additions to their college applications, or are looking to show off their extensive knowledge of poetry need to look no further, because Poetry Out Loud is now available to 9th- 12th grade students through their literature classes! Launched in high schools nationwide in 2006, Poetry Out Loud (POL) has grown to involve millions of students across the country. POL is a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about poetry through memorization and recitation. It uses a pyramid structure that starts in the classroom. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional (or state) competition, and the luckiest move on to the National Finals. This contest helps students master public speaking skills that they will need to use later in life, while educating them in literary history and culture.
So, who can participate in POL? Basically, anyone in 9th-12th grade can participate. The school must send at least two competitors, the competitors should have a collection of at least 3 poems, and they must have the poems memorized. No props or costumes are allowed. All poems must be selected from the Poetry Out Loud print or online anthology (which can be found the link below.) The students will read one poem per round, and be judged by selective judges who have been taught by a POL rulebook. Reciters will be judged cumulatively as the rounds go on.
Prizes and awards vary between competitions. State winners receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip (with an adult chaperone) to Washington to compete in the National Championship. The winner’s school receives a $500 stipend solely for the purchase of poetry books. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals.
Poetry Out Loud is more than just a contest. It’s a way of educating students and helping them to broaden their literary experiences. Through POL, kids make friends, learn more about poetry, authors, and the arts, and they are rewarded for taking part in something bigger than themselves.
For more information, and for free materials and resources to start your Poetry Out Loud journey, go to http://www.poetryoutloud.org/