Posts Tagged ‘POL’


Maine State POL Champ

March 21, 2018

Allan Monga, Deering High School Junior

They came, they recited, and they were AMAZING! Students from the following high schools were this year’s Poetry Out Loud finalists:

  • Abigail vanLuling, Grade 12, Gorham High School
  • Hanna Lavenson, Grade 10, Messalonskee High School
  • Lauren Farmer, Grade 10, Rangeley Lakes Regional School
  • Emma Lombardo, Grade 11, Westbrook High School
  • Nelson Peterson, Grade 12, Oak Hill High School
  • Lydia Caron, Grade 12, Bangor High School
  • Wyatt Bates, Grade 11, Yarmouth High School
  • Richard Hilscher, Grade 12, North Yarmouth Academy
  • Lauren Dodge, Grade 12, Lee Academy
  • Katharine Kemper, Grade 10, Camden Hills Regional High School
  • Allan Monga, Grade 11, Deering High School

You can listen to them recite from the regional finals held earlier this winter on the Maine Arts Commission site.

Allan Monga, Deering High School

Yahooooo for Allan Monga from Deering who is Maine’s 2018 State Champ.  The poems he recited at the Waterville Opera House on March 20th at the state finals included “The Song of the Smoke” by W.E.B. Du Bois, “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron (George Gordon) and “In the Desert” by Stephen Crane. You can hear him recite “In the Desert” on Maine Public Radio.

The Maine Arts Commission is proud of all of the recipients and wish Allan the best at the national finals which will be held in Washington, D.C., on April  23-25. They will be live streamed – look for the link in a later blog post.

CONGRATULATIONS to Allan and all of the 9,500 students in schools across the state who participated this year. See hundreds of photos from the state finals on the Maine Arts Commission Facebook page.

Waterville High School jazz band under the direction of music educator Sue Barre provided music at the state finals

Poetry Out Loud is organized nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. It begins in Maine’s schools where school champions are selected to compete in two regional finals at which ten students are ultimately selected to recite at the state finals. One student, the state champion, moves on from the state finals to represent Maine at the national finals in Washington D.C., where students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico will compete for a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends for the purchase of poetry books.

Lauren Dodge, Lee Academy

Charles Stanhope, Chair Maine Arts Commission, Allan Monga, Maine State Champion, Julie Richard, Executive Director, Maine Arts Commission


POL State Finals Postponed

March 13, 2018

Tuesday, March 20

Time to read Snow Day by Billy Collins in anticipation of the State Poetry Out Loud finals postponed to Tuesday, March 20, 3:00 p.m., Waterville Opera House. Doors open to the public at 2:30, no charge to attend. Waterville Senior High School Jazz Band will perform under the direction of Sue Barre, music educator extraordinaire.

We are very proud that Maine consistently ranks high amongst the U.S. national participation. This year, 9,500 Maine students from 39 high schools participated across the state. And now, 11 students advance to the Poetry Out Loud State Finals, being broadcast live on March 14 from the Waterville Opera House.

The Arts Commission is collaborating with Boothbay Region Television to broadcast the state finals live throughout the state, as well as streaming the event via Facebook Live.
To see the students who will move onto the Maine Poetry Out Loud State Finals and hear their recitations from the state regional competition, click here. If you can’t make it to Waterville, remember to tune in live on the Maine Arts Commission Facebook page.

Snow Day

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

Billy Collins, “Snow Day” from Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (New York: Random House, 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Billy Collins. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (Random House Inc., 2001)


In Today’s News

January 16, 2018

Medomak Valley High School POL

Two students from Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro have been named to represent the school at the Northern Maine Regional Finals for Poetry Out Loud.

Poetry Out Loud is organized nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. It begins in Maine’s schools where school champions are selected to compete in two regional finals at which ten students are ultimately selected to recite at the state finals.

Read about Lydia Simmons and Elizabeth Flanagan in the Village Soup, January 15 edition. The article was written by Dagney C. Ernest.

Join us for one Maine’s regional or the statewide events.

February 12, 2018     Northern Maine Regional Finals (Performing Arts Center, Hampden Academy, 3 p.m.)

February 13, 2018     Snow date for Northern Maine Regional Finals

Feb 28, 2018               Southern Maine Regional Finals (Westbrook Middle School, 3 p.m.)

March 1, 2018            Snow date Southern Maine Regional Finals

March 14, 2018          Maine State Finals (3 p.m., Waterville Opera House)

March 20, 2018          Snow date for Maine State Finals

April 23-25, 2018       Poetry Out Loud National Finals (Washington, D.C.)



Maine Poetry Out Loud

December 11, 2017

Poets go to school

The Poetry Out Loud (POL) program is underway across Maine and the country. Over 10,000 Maine high students are selecting their poems, furiously memorizing and practicing them for themselves, their classmates, and their teachers.

Maine has 48 high schools participating this year, 10 new to POL. At some schools every student, grade 9-12 participates. Maine is repeatedly one of the states with the highest participation and this year will be no exception.  The 2017 Maine State Champ, Gabrielle Cooper, attended Gardiner Area High School; one of the schools where all students participate every year. Three of the new schools this year were fortunate to have

Winthrop High School students with Gibson Fay-LeBlanc

poets visit them to work with students and teachers. Portland’s fifth Poet Laureate, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc provided a workshop at Winthrop High School and Hampshire County Council’s Hampshire Poet Brian Evans-Jones provided workshops at Herman High School and Van Buren District Secondary School.

Students had a chance to experiment with their voices and ‘try out’ their poems for feedback. Both Gibson and Brian are on the MAC Teaching Artist roster and available to provide workshops for schools and community organizations.

Brian at Hermon High School

Thanks to all of the teachers who are working with students across Maine. I was thrilled to be at Hermon High School for the workshops. Brian led the students through exercises to help prepare their voices and their confidence. He said: “It’s important to understand your poem. The better you understand your poem the better you communicate the meaning and with that comes confidence.” Even listening to students recite their poems 2 and 3 times, I could hear their confidence rise.

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is organized nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission.  This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. Maine’s POL represent public and private high schools as well as high school homeschooling populations.

You have a chance to learn more about POL in Maine. The Maine Arts Commission invites you to attend the regional and state finals.

  • The Northern Maine Regional Finals will be held on Monday, February 12, 2018, 3:00 p.m. at the Hampden Academy Performing Arts Center, Hampden. The snow date is Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 3:00 PM. Hampden Academy, Regional School Unit #22, is an in-kind sponsor of this event.
  •  The Southern Maine Regional Finals will be held on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 3:00 p.m. at the Westbrook Middle School Performing Arts Center, Westbrook. The snow date is Thursday, March 1, 2018, 3:00 p.m.
  • The Maine State Finals will be held on Monday, March 12, 2018 at the Waterville Opera House, 93 Main Street, Waterville. The snow date is Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Doors open to the public at 2:30 p.m. and the event begins at 3:00 p.m. No tickets are required. The event is free and all are welcome to attend. We anticipate that the event will conclude by approximately 5:00 p.m.

Working with teachers at Hermon High School

Learn more about the POL program at the national site or at the Maine Arts Commission POL webpages. If you teach or live near a high school that does not participate please plan on joining the program in the 2018-19 school year. Email Argy Nestor if you have any questions about how to get involved!



POL Registration is Open

September 21, 2017

Poetry Out Loud for high school students

The Maine Arts Commission is pleased to announce that school registration for the 2017-2018 Poetry Out Loud program is now open. Schools can find online all information about the program and register quickly and easily. The registration deadline is November 6, 2017. 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 2017-2018 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 a meaningful 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 205 teachers from 42 high schools across Maine participated in Poetry Out Loud in 2016-2017. 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!

Gabrielle Cooper, 2017 Maine State Poetry Out Loud Champ, Gardiner Area High School

You can view a brief video of Maine’s 2017 Top 10 Poetry Out Loud finalists discussing what poetry and performance art means to them. Highlights from the 2017 regional and state finals are also included.

Available to view and share is 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 January 8, 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 Standards are available.


September – November 2017 School Registration (ongoing)
November 6, 2017 Last day to register for Poetry Out Loud
January 8, 2018 Last day for school-wide competitions
January 16, 2018 Last day for Regional Finals Registration
January 22, 2018

January 25, 2018

Last day for Regional Workshop Registration

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

(Hampden Academy)

January 30, 2018 Snow date for Northern Regional Workshop
February 5, 2018 Southern Regional Workshop (4-6 p.m.)

(Portland Public Library)

February 6, 2018 Snow date for Southern Regional Workshop
February 12, 2018 Northern Maine Regional Finals

(Performing Arts Center, Hampden Academy)

February 13, 2018 Snow date for Northern Maine Regional Finals
February 28, 2018 Southern Maine Regional Finals

(venue to be announced)

March 2, 2018 Snow date for Southern Maine Regional Finals
March 12, 2018 Maine State Finals (Waterville Opera House)
March 13, 2018 Snow date for Maine State Finals
April 23-25, 2018 Poetry Out Loud National Finals (Washington, DC)


Maine State Finals POL participants

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



POL South Dakota Champ

July 14, 2017

A Platform for a Powerful Voice

The following was written by Ms. Madison Lukomski, South Dakota’s Poetry Out Loud champ and finalist for the National Poetry Out Loud champ. It was published in the Americans for the Arts journal on June 28, 2017.

“I was miserable, of course, for I was seventeen,
and so I swung into action and wrote a poem.”

“Mingus at The Showplace” by William Matthews

Ms. Madison Lukomski

The first lines of Matthews’ poem truly resonated with me when I first read it, though at first I couldn’t identify why. On the surface, the poem itself is a light-hearted account of a young teenager attempting to find a way to express his voice. The humor is dry, the characterization is vivid, and the storyline unpredictable—and as a moody 17-year-old, I was hooked on every word!

It was so beautiful to me—that a 17-year-old boy in the poem could experience intense emotion and feel moved enough to share his poetry with “genius” Mingus, as he says. He was miserable, but he didn’t keep his misery locked away.

When I was seventeen, my father suddenly had a heart attack and passed away on Christmas Eve. There was really no outlet for my pain; most people didn’t feel comfortable talking to me and my sister, and no one felt comfortable doing anything to help us. The effect was extremely isolating—people would merely stare and whisper. I had never felt so alone.

I had never written poetry before, but there was an opportunity through Poetry Out Loud for me to create a poem and submit it for a supplementary competition. I had such a deep love for poetry at this point, and I felt like this opportunity deserved exploring. So, I did it. Five drafts of work yielded “My Sleeves,” a poetic tribute to my father, in a way.

That poem ended up getting first place in the nation in the Poetry Ourselves competition.

The entire experience was humbling. Every time I shared my poem in person with others, they showed genuine appreciation for having experienced what I had worked so extremely hard to put into words. This poem, this verbalization of the most intense and horrible and painful emotions I had ever experienced, became my way of honoring my father.

Maddie Lukomski performs at the 2016 Poetry Out Loud national competition.

I remember performing my poem once for my peers in the South Dakota Honor Choir during their talent show. I was absolutely terrified to share my words with them (I actually backed right into a wall on my way out because I was so overwhelmed), but I did it because I genuinely loved the words that went into this poem, and I genuinely felt that I had something worth hearing in the notes section of my phone. On stage in the middle of my poem during a pause, a girl let out one audible sob right before the last lines of the poem. Later she came up to me and told me that her mother was in the hospital and had been in a coma for some time. She told me that every word I spoke resonated with her, related to her on a level neither one of us could understand.

Poetry Out Loud gave me a link to connect to others with. It gave me the empowerment to confidently and unapologetically exist. It let me speak with my own voice. I will never, in my entire life, forget this organization and all of the people who created it. Without it, I solidly feel as though I would still be lost. I would feel as though my thoughts were not worth sharing, that my existence STILL had to be apologized for. I owe everything to Poetry Out Loud and I owe everything to art.

I will be forever thankful for my journey thus far, and forever eager for whatever is to come; and I can thank my poetry for instilling that in me.


In Today’s News

May 3, 2017

Maine POL champ in the news

As you may know Gabrielle Cooper, a senior at Gardiner Area High School, represented Maine last week in Washington, D.C. at the national finals. The Kennebec Journal interviewed Gabrielle for an article.

In her own words: “The best part of the entire journey was the people, from the English teachers to the Maine Arts Commission and to all the other competitors,” she said. “It was the people that made it a great experience and what I’ll remember the most.”

The article provides many details about Gabrielle’s experiences during Poetry Out Loud. Read the article by CLICKING HERE.

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