Poetry Out Loud in Iowa is an arts education program that encourages 9th-12th grade students to study great poetry and compete in a recitation competition at local, state and national levels. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

It was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation with the collaboration of state arts agencies in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

About the Program

High school teachers implement curriculum using free, standards-based materials. Classroom studies culminate with a contest in which each student selects and recites poems from the Poetry Out Loud anthology. Classroom winners advance to school-wide competitions and school champions advance to regional and state competitions. State champions advance to the National Finals where a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends are awarded as prizes.

Iowa’s state champion receives $200 and the opportunity to compete for the national championship. The Iowa champion’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books and the first runner-up receives $100 plus $200 for their school.

How to Participate

The 2024 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Competition will be held in person at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines on Sunday, March 3, 2024. Students will need to participate in a school or local competition before advancing to State. Teachers are encouraged to participate in Poetry Out Loud through integrating the program into their class curriculum and hosting school competitions. As an added incentive we will be offering lead teachers a $200 stipend to participate in the program. View the Poetry Out Loud Participation Guide to learn more.

Past State Champions

View past state champions of the Iowa Poetry Out Loud program.