Poetry Out Loud Competition

Homeschooled poetry enthusiasts and orators are encouraged to register for the Poetry Out Loud Competition! Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest, created and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3.6 million students from every state, Washington, DC, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico since its inception in 2005. The Virginia regional and state competitions are organized by the Virginia Commission for the Arts. The program boosts self confidence and public speaking skills. Compass is the host of the this fun, “school level” contest for area homeschoolers that feeds into the regional contest.

Contest Details

  • Date: The Poetry Out Loud Contest is held the 2nd or 3rd Wednesday in November each year.
  • Time: The contest begins at 4:30 pm, but participants are asked to gather at 4:15 pm to check in. The ending time will vary based on number of participants.
  • The competition is held at Compass.
  • Registration: Registration opens October 1 through the Compass Registration page.
  • Cost: There is no cost to participate in this contest.Contest Eligibility
  • Homeschooled students in 7th-12th grades* may participate.
  • High school participants (9th-12th grade*) compete in the school-level, high school contest.
  • An 8th grade* student can participate in the high school contest if he/she is taking high school level classes. Documentation may be requested if the 8th grade student is not enrolled at Compass.
  • Middle school participants (7th graders* and all other 8th graders*) compete in a school-level, middle school contest only. The middle school contest is meant to excite and prepare students for future high school level contests, but there is no progression to a regional contest for middle school students.
  • *Grade is defined by student’s age-based enrollment if he/she was in traditional school without acceleration, grade skipping, or delayed entry.
  • Homeschooled students from the metro DC area (VA, MD, DC) can participate, regardless of whether or not they take classes at Compass. Homeschooled students who are not enrolled at Compass will be asked to provide a copy of their county’s/jurisdictions acknowledgement of their homeschooled status for the contest year.

Contest Format/Criteria

  • The school level contest will consist of oral recitations of two memorized poems. The poems must be selected from from the annual online or printed POL anthology. The anthology is published in September each year and contains approximately 600 classic and contemporary poems.
  • Contestants are not permitted to wear costumes or use props, notes, or visual aids.
  • Contestants are evaluated on overall performance, physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding and accuracy. Descriptions of these elements are found in the contest’s Evaluation Criteria. Accuracy is further judged on “minor” and “major” details such as skipping, missing, or inadvertently changing a word. Contestants can review the accuracy score sheet for a further understanding of these criteria.Contest Winner
    The Compass school-level, high school winner will advance to the regional competition held in Manassas, VA, in late January. If the first place school winner is unable to attend, the second place winner will be invited to participate, and so on. The school winner will be expected to recite two poems at the regional competition. Prize money is offered at the state and national contest levels.

    Practice Suggestions
    Poetry Out Loud contestants can review the Teacher’s Guide or Lesson Plans for tips on the contest. For more tips and inspiration, contestants can also watch videos of past winners or listen to audio clips of famous personalities reciting poems.