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Poetry Out Loud (POL)

Poetry Out Loud (POL)


Poetry Out Loud: Celebrating Poetry in Maryland Schools

The words of great poets literally come to life in Poetry Out Loud (POL), a literary arts program created by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation. Through MSAC support, students across Maryland are enriched by this national arts education program that encourages the mastery of great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Since 2005, nearly 4.7 million students have competed in Poetry Out Loud nationwide. That's almost 4.7 million students who have learned at least one poem by heart! In Maryland, approximately 129,000 students have participated in the program, learning the power of poetry firsthand.

Caption: 2020 Maryland State Champion Randolph Smith.


2020-21 Maryland Poetry Out Loud 

For the 2020-2021 year, the Maryland State Poetry Out Loud competition will be held virtually! Students (who want to independently participate), educators, and community organizers are encouraged to register indicating their intent to submit student poetry recitation videos for competition consideration. Poetry Out Loud is a great opportunity for a remote and hybrid student learning project. You can showcase your students' creativity in a new, fun, digitally engaging way! See our downloadable materials section for more information about our timeline, competition structure, and toolkits.


Poetry Out Loud Masterclasses

Join MSAC and the Maryland State Department of Education’s Fine Arts Office for an M:BRACE Poetry Out Loud Masterclass series! In each class, previous Poetry Out Loud judges will share tips and tricks on how to perfect a poetry recitation while acing the Poetry Out Loud judging criteria. Attend one or all. Open to students, educators, and competition hosts. 


Monday, November 9, 3-4:30pm: PHYSICAL PRESENCE led by Gayle Danley

Soon after crushing the competition at Asheville's National Poetry Slam in 1994, Gayle Danley entered America's classrooms teaching thousands of children how to access their emotions through the force of words. She performed and taught her way from Maryland Young Audience's Artist of the Year, to National Young Audiences Artist of the Year. She's also both a former national and international poetry slam champion. CBS 60 Minutes profiled her work with middle schoolers in Baltimore County. She's appeared in the  Baltimore Sun, Washington Post and New York Times. Gayle was recently named Maryland Library Association Poet of the Year.


Monday, November 16, 3-4:30pm: VOICE AND ARTICULATION and DRAMATIC APPROPRIATENESS led by Unique Robinson

Unique Robinson is a writer/performer, professor, & proud Baltimore native. She received her MFA in English from Mills College, and a BA in Creative Writing/Black Studies from Hampshire College. She has served in Teaching Artist and administrative roles for nonprofits in Baltimore, and received the Emerging Teaching Artist award from Arts Every Day. She also co-founded blkottonkandy, an arts & wellness initiative, which received the Grit Fund Grant in 2019. She has published two books, flicked/forgotten/FREED, and Four Wings & A Prayer. Currently, she is Humanistic Studies Faculty at MICA, and a Poetry/Theater Teaching Artist with City Schools.


Monday, November 23, 3-4:30pm: EVIDENCE OF UNDERSTANDING, OVERALL PERFORMANCE led by Melodie Charles and James Magruder

James Magruder has published three books of fiction: Sugarless (2009), Let Me See It (2014), and Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall (2016). His adaptations of works by Molière, Marivaux, Lesage, Labiche, Gozzi, Dickens, Hofmannsthal, and Giraudoux have been staged on and off-Broadway, and across the country. He co-wrote the book—in blank verse—for the Go-Go’s musical, Head Over Heels, which ran for six months on Broadway in 2018.


Melodie Charles has been an editor of bad books, including everything from poetry to politics. She has taught English to students from fourth to twelfth grade, always including a poetry unit. For the chorus she sings with, she helped the music director design a concert of songs based on texts from Shakespeare and another concert of songs with American poetry for lyrics. For that concert, she coached POL students who performed poetry recitations between songs. She currently edits grant application reviews for the Department of Justice, material without a speck of poetry in it.


2020-21 MD Poetry Out Loud Timeline and Competition Structure

2020-21 Pre-Regional Video Submission Instructions

2020-21 Judge’s Guide



Poetry Out Loud 2020-2021 Webinar PDF Version