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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.


Register for Poetry Out Loud

Deadline: Monday, November 2 at 11:59 p.m.


Register for POL Webinar 

On October 1st from 3-4pm, join MSAC Arts in Education staff for an informational webinar to learn more about Poetry Out Loud, the Maryland virtual competition structure this year, and professional development opportunities for teachers, students, parents and organizations. The webinar will be recorded and later posted on this page.

Register for POL Webinar


Call for Judges and Coaches

MSAC relies on a diverse array of experts from across the state of Maryland to do the important work of supporting students, parents, and educators through the Poetry Out Loud competition. MSAC selects pre-regional, regional, and state judges and coaches with a focus on diversity of experiences, diversity of location, and expertise in supporting students throughout all levels of the competition. In particular, MSAC seeks theater artists, educators, professors, arts journalists, writers, actors, librarians, slam poets, and general poetry lovers as Poetry Out Loud judges and coaches. Judges and coaches must be Maryland residents. 

Selected judges and coaches serve a one-year term.

Judges and coaches receive modest compensation for their service.

What does a judge or coach do?

Selected judges and coaches: 

  • Attend orientation conference call(s) with MSAC Arts in Education Staff.

  • Judges digitally review video submissions at the pre-regional, regional, and/or state level.

  • Coaches offer support to student competitors in alignment with the POL evaluation criteria.

*The average time commitment for a judge at each review level is 2-4 hours. The average time commitment for a coach is 4-6 hours. 

How do I apply to be a judge/coach? 

Submit your application via MSAC’s online grants management system, SmartSimple. 

  • *Read the 2019-2020 POL Judges Guide here. 

  • Watch at least one recitation video here.

  • Click the Apply Now button below to log in or create a free account in SmartSimple.

  • Under Funding Opportunities, select "Public Call."

  • Select "Poetry Out Loud Judge/Coach" from the drop-down options and click "Save Draft" to populate the application.

*The 2020-2021 Judges Guide will be available later this fall. The 2019-2020 Judges Guide still has important information that will be carried over this year.


Apply Now

Deadline: Monday, November 2 at 11:59 p.m.


2020-21 MD Poetry Out Loud Timeline and Competition Structure

2019-20 Teacher’s Guide

2019-20 Judge’s Guide