Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud inspires in high school students the confidence to make themselves heard, using one of the most powerful tools at their disposal—art


Congratulations to Orange County Poetry Out Loud Champion Olivia Le for placing third in the 2023 California Recitation competition and FIRST in the Creative Writing competition!

Olivia Le, Sophomore at the Orange County School of the Arts
Olivia Le, Sophomore at the Orange County School of the Arts

Poetry in education has experienced a Renaissance through Poetry Out Loud. Students are given the opportunity to interact with the words of the masters through recitation, building a relationship with the works and creating a sense of shared ownership branded by their own technique of volume, pitch, pace, and personal point of view.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered statewide by the California Arts Council, and operated in Orange County as a partnership between Arts Orange County and Orange County Department of Education, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Participants master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

How it works

The structure of Poetry Out Loud is similar to a spelling bee. This annual program starts in the fall, with high school teachers using the free Poetry Out Loud teacher toolkit and related materials to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions.

Orange County’s Poetry Out Loud offers free coaching by an experienced poet/performer, Marcus Omari, founder of the Poetry Reform Party in Santa Ana.

Students compete in a County competition and the County winner competes in the California Poetry Out Loud State Finals and a chance to compete in the national competition.

Promo Video for 2021 Competition