Posts Tagged ‘Poetry Out Loud’


Poetry Out Loud Resources

December 4, 2018

Coming soon

Brian Evans-Jones, teaching artist and poet created a set of “exercises” that will be made available to Maine students and teachers to be used to help prepare them for the Poetry Out Loud (POL) program and for teaching and learning poetry. Recently students, poet and film makers converged on Deering High School in Portland to tape the exercises.

Maine’s 2018 POL champ Allan Monga, senior from Deering and 2018 POL state finalist Emma Lombardo, senior from Westbrook High School provided their POL experiences to demonstrate multiple recitation ideas. They are both amazing young people – I was so impressed with their thoughtfulness during the taping.

Brian directed the individual video clips, Ryan Leighton, Maine Arts Commission marketing & communications director and film maker Cody Mitchell taped hours of footage. It will be edited to create a set of resource videos that will be made available at the beginning of December 2018.

This is an amazing opportunity for Maine! It was great to see the learning taking place for all involved. Thank you to Deering High School principal Gregg Palmer for making the arrangements at the school.



November 17, 2018

Sunday November 18, 2:00 p.m.


Launching POL

September 18, 2018

Year 14 begins

Register Now!

The Maine Arts Commission, a state government agency in Augusta, is pleased to announce that school registration for the 2018-2019 Poetry Out Loudprogram is now open. Schools can find online all information about the program and register quickly and easily. The registration deadline is October 17, 2018. Immediately following registration, each school’s identified contact teacher will be sent program materials and teacher toolkits, which include the newly revised Poetry Out Loud 2018-2019 Teacher’s Guide, for all participating teachers/staff members.

Poetry Out Loud is organized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation; it is administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. Begun in high schools nationwide in 2006, this dynamic program encourages our nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Students have the opportunity to choose from among 900+ poems in the official Poetry Out Loud anthology and then bring their selected poems to life. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. In addition to providing ameaningful educational experience of poetry in written and spoken form, over $100,000 in awards is given to successful students and schools at the state and national level, including $20,000 awarded to the National Champion.

Poetry Out Loud offers high school teachers an easy-to-use, standards-based program to help students discover a range of poets from Emily Dickinson to Richard Blanco to Gwendolyn Brooks. Participating teachers receive free materials including a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and access to audio-visual materials on the art of recitation.

We are thrilled that over 9,500 students and 200 teachers from 44 high schools across Maine participated in Poetry Out Loud in 2017-2018. We anticipate that this school year will be just as exciting and we encourage all teachers to consider giving their students throughout your school the opportunity to shine in this nationwide celebration of poetry!

We encourage you to view a video of the Maine’s 2018 Poetry Out Loud finalists discussing what poetry and performance art means to them. Student recitations and highlights from the 2018 state finals are also included.

Please take a few minutes to view and share the promotional national videos entitled “Get involved in POL!” and “Why Poetry Out Loud?” Additionally, we recommend that you share a short article from The Atlantic entitled “Why Teaching Poetry Is So Important” (April 2014) with students, teaching colleagues, administrators and parents. It is our hope that these resources may help you publicize Poetry Out Loud in your school and support your school’s participation in the program this year.

Please note that Poetry Out Loud can take place in your school anytime between now and December 21, 2018, as the program does not require full class periods and can be completed in just two to three weeks; however, teachers are encouraged to consider making Poetry Out Loud a larger part of their school’s curriculum. Specific lesson plans as well as an explanation of the alignment with both the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Standards and Common Core State Standardsare available.

Register Now!

Please review the following timeline as you consider registering your school:

September – October 2018 School Registration (ongoing)
October 17, 2018 Last day to register for Poetry Out Loud
December 21, 2018 Last day for school-wide competitions
January 9, 2019 Last day for Regional Finals Registration
January 9, 2019

January 14, 2019

Last day for Regional Workshop Registration

Southern Regional Workshop(4-6 p.m.)

(Portland Public Library)

January 15, 2019 Snow date for Southern Regional Workshop
January 16, 2019 Northern Regional Workshop(4-6 p.m.) (Performing Arts Center, Hampden Academy)
January 17, 2019 Snow date for Northern Regional Workshop
January 29, 2019 Northern Maine Regional Finals

(Performing Arts Center, Hampden Academy)

January 30, 2019 Snow date for Northern Maine Regional Finals
February 11, 2019 Southern Maine Regional Finals

(Performing Arts Center, Westbrook Middle School)

February 12, 2019 Snow date for Southern Maine Regional Finals
March 11, 2019 Maine State Finals(Waterville Opera House)
March 12, 2018 Snow date for Maine State Finals
April 30 – May 1, 2019 Poetry Out Loud National Finals(Washington, DC)

The Maine Arts Commission believes that the arts are an essential part of a well-rounded education. Through our Arts Education program, we create and support innovative arts learning opportunities that engage both students and teachers in creative thinking, arts participation and the building of vibrant learning communities. Visit this site to obtain more information about the benefits of Poetry Out Loud, as well as information on all educational programming offered by the Maine Arts Commission.

If we can provide any assistance with registration or program planning for your school’s Poetry Out Loud program, please contact Argy Nestor. 


Memorizing Poetry: Tributes and Memories

May 6, 2018

Carl Little and Memorizing Poems

Carl Little

I have served as the accuracy judge for Maine’s Poetry Out Loud competition on several occasions (not this year—the snow derailed my plans). Each time I hear those brave high schoolers present the work of Tony Hoagland, Linda Pastan, Langston Hughes, Wallace Stevens, and other great poets past and present, I am reminded of my own experiences with memorizing poetry—memories that are a mix of pleasure and pure fear.

My first recollection of learning verse goes back to elementary school in New York City in the 1960s. Every summer each student in the three senior classes (sixth, seventh and eighth grades) at the Buckley School was required to learn by heart several poems to be recited in the classroom upon returning to school in the fall, an obligation that put a small but significant damper on end-of-summer fun.

Just like the Poetry Out Loud contestants, we were given a group of poems from which to choose. Among my selections were “The Congo” by Vachel Lindsay and “On His Blindness” by John Milton. The latter I can still recite by heart. I loved the music of his words—“When I consider how my light is spent,” is the opening line—but also finding out that Milton went blind later in his life, which deepened my appreciation of this poem, so abstract yet so personal.

Flash forward to 1976. I had graduated from Dartmouth, moved back to New York City, and, as an English major, was desperate for some kind of employment. I took a job as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was posted to the Lehman Wing, on the Central Park side of the museum, a somewhat remote section of the sprawling complex.

To pass the time guarding Rembrandt’s portrait of the syphilitic art theorist Gerard de Lairesse and other art works, I decided to memorize poems, among them, William Carlos Williams’ delightful “Danse Russe,” in which the speaker dances naked before a mirror, asking “Who shall say I am not/the happy genius of my household?” Years later, a Mount Desert Island acquaintance, photographer Linn Sage, recounted how one day she came into one of the Lehman galleries and caught me practicing that poem.

A few years later, enrolled in Columbia’s MFA writing program, I took Derek Walcott’s “The English Pentameter Tradition” class. The West Indies-born poet, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, had all of us memorize poems by Robert Frost and Edward Thomas.

Walcott loved both poets dearly and highlighted their connection: when Frost moved to England with his family in 1912, the 40-year-old poet was looking for a fresh literary start to a career that had stalled in America. He met and became close friends with Thomas, a critic and budding poet. Frost found a London publisher for his first book, North of Boston, now considered a masterpiece of American literature. Thomas’s favorable appraisal of the collection—he called it “one of the most revolutionary books of modern times”—helped launch his newfound friend’s career. Interesting to note that Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken” led Thomas to enlist in the British Army. He died in World War I.

Most of us in Walcott’s class were in our 20s and we were collectively petrified by his assignment, but after weak protestation, we gave in. I can’t recall what I memorized for Frost—maybe “Raking Leaves,” which my son James later learned by heart in elementary school—but for Thomas it was his poem “Rain.”Certain lines still ring in my head: “Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon.”

Martin Steingesser

The only Maine poet I know who presents his work from memory is the inimitable Martin Steingesser. At the second annual celebration of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s birthday at the Farnsworth Museum this past February 24th, he recited by heart one of her most famous poems, the sonnet “What lips my lips have kissed, and where and why.” It was, indeed, “by heart” that Steingesser gave us Millay’s bittersweet lines. “I cannot say what loves have come and gone”—nor could we.

I have given many readings of my own verse, but never presented it without the words in front of me. Inspired by those high school students and Steingesser, and wanting to be able to impress my grandchildren, who seem to be able to memorize a book after a single reading, I have decided to embark on memorization. I’m starting with “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats. Take a deep breath, Carl. Ready?  “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.”

Thank you to Carl Little, Communications Manager, Maine Community Foundation, for providing this blog post. Carl is also a poet.



So Proud of Allan!

April 26, 2018

Poetry Out Loud

National POL, 2018

Today started early by boarding a plane in Washington, D.C. to return to Maine after attending the National Poetry Out Loud National Finals held at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University. The Poetry Out Loud program is a partnership of the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. It is administered in each state by the state arts agencies. In our case, the Maine Arts Commission. Over 9,500 students participated this year from 39 high schools across the state.


Allan reciting at the state, March 20, Waterville Opera House

Representing Maine this year at the national event was Allan Monga from Deering High School. Students were divided by region during the semi-finals – 3 events – on Tuesday with the northeast region taking place in the morning. Allan did a fabulous job representing Maine – we can all be very proud! The student named national champ for 2018, Janae Claxton, attends the First Baptist Church High School in Charleston, South Carolina.

As I drove home thinking about the last three days, I kept wondering how satisfied each student must feel after several months of preparing for their recitations. Every young person there really leaned in, some surprising themselves, and achieving at a high level. They were an impressive group!

Maine POL coordinator Don Reutershan, Maine POL Champ Allan Monga, and MAC Arts Education Director Argy Nestor

Find Allan’s interview with All Things Considered from Tuesday, April 24 at” 


National Poetry Out Loud Event

April 23, 2018

Live Streaming event

For those of you interested and available to listen and watch the National Poetry Out Loud event being held this week in Washington, D.C. the information is below. Maine’s representative, Allan Monga, a junior at Deering High School in Portland will be performing on the morning of Tuesday, April 24. Allan is in the first semifinals of reciters from the northeast region which is scheduled for 9:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m. Allan is #18 out of 19. I have posted the order of reciters below by state in case you are able to tune in. At the end of the first semifinal round they will announce which students will go on to the final round which will take place on Wednesday, April 25, 7:00 – 9:15 p.m.

Live Webcast @
Poetry fans who can’t attend the live event can cheer on their state champions with a live, one-time only webcast of both the semifinals and the finals. To host a viewing party of the webcast, groups can register their viewing party at, where we also have viewing party tips and the webcast schedule. Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using #POL18 and #iampoetryoutloud.
  • DC
  • CT
  • MA
  • NY
  • SC
  • OH
  • USVI
  • NJ
  • VA
  • DE
  • NH
  • VW
  • RI
  • NC
  • MD
  • VT
  • ME
  • PA

In Today’s News

April 21, 2018

Allan Monga going to D.C. for POL

Allan Monga, a Deering High School student from Zambia, will be representing Maine next week at the National Poetry Out Loud competition. READ the entire article from the Portland Press Herald (April 20) written by Ray Routhier.

Bangor Daily News article (April 21) written by Judy Harrison. READ the article.


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