Arts Council
Schools can register for 2016 Poetry Out Loud competition

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, September 15, 2015  
Contact Information:  Tom Musgrave
Communications Director
502-564-3757, ext. 489

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Arts Council has opened registration for the 2016 season of Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the arts council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

Since starting in 2006, Poetry Out Loud has grown to include participation from more than 365,000 students from 2,300 high schools in 2014-15.

“Poetry Out Loud is an important component of our arts education mission because it exposes students to great literature, allows them to work with some of Kentucky’s fantastic teaching artists, and lets the students interpret the poems and perform them on stage in front of family and friends,” said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director. “We hope to grow the number of Kentucky participants in this competition in 2016 and see the stage at the Grand Theatre packed with students.”

Teachers at many participating schools have lauded Poetry Out Loud, now in its 11th year, as an effective way to address Kentucky’s arts education standards. Participation in Poetry Out Loud is often cited in schools’ final reports as evidence for their Arts and Humanities Program Review, which is a state-mandated self-evaluation of a program’s educational effectiveness.

“It gets us out of our comfort zones and allows us to do something different within the curriculum. There are so few times we get to do that,” said Rebecca Graham, an English teacher at Louisville’s Butler High School. “For a school to participate and compete in a literary competition, that’s not something a lot of students get to do.”

The program also goes beyond teaching an appreciation for poetry and poets, she said.

“The students get to analyze and understand the poetry, which is important, but they also get the practice of speaking in front of people, which is such a necessary part of life.”

Schools must register before Oct. 15 to be eligible for the 2016 competition. The contest starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to schoolwide competition, then to the state competition, Feb. 23, 2016, at the Grand Theatre in Frankfort.

American Sign Language interpreters will be provided at the state competition.

The winner of the state finals receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national championship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up receives $100, with $200 going to his or her school library.

For more information about Poetry Out Loud in Kentucky, contact Jean St. John, arts council education director, at 502-564-3757, ext. 486; or

For a general overview of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest visit

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The arts council, along with the NEA, is celebrating 50 years of service in 2015, which the arts council is recognizing as the Year of the Arts in Kentucky.

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