2022 Maine Poetry Out Loud Virtual Qualifying Competition

Hosted by Waterfall Arts

Waterfall Arts is partnering with the Maine Arts Commission to host a qualifying competition for Maine students who do not have a school competition to participate in to qualify for the Maine State Regional competitions. To participate in the competition, video recitation files must be received by Friday, January 21. 

About Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation.

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. Due to COVID-19, competitions across the country are being held virtually and some schools that normally hold competitions are not able to do so again this year. 

Waterfall Arts is partnering with the Maine Arts Commission to create this qualifying competition for students whose school is not holding a competition this year or are homeschooling. The winner(s) from this competition will proceed on to the Maine State Regionals. Ten students from the regional competitions then compete in the Maine State Finals. The winner from the Maine State finals competes in the National Poetry Out Loud competition with students from around the country. 

How It Works

This competition is being held virtually as a video submission competition. Participating students will record two poetry recitations and send the files through the registration form linked below by no later than Friday, January 21. All poems must be selected from the Poetry Out Loud online anthology.* Recitations will be judged according to the Poetry Out Loud evaluation criteria, which can be found here. Winners from this competition will be announced on Friday, January 28.

Nervous about reciting? Unsure of where to start? Don’t be! Poetry Out Loud has provided some great resources to get you going (while these resources are geared toward in person competitions, the tips are still very useful for this year’s virtual competitions):

*Note: only two poems are required for this competition and can be any poem included in the POL anthology.  At the State and National finals, students must have three poems prepared. One must be 25 lines or fewer, and one must be written before the 20th century. 


Recitation Requirements: 

  • Students must begin by stating the title of the poem and the poet’s name, and the translator, if applicable. A student’s own editorial comments before or after the poem are not allowed. 
  • Poems must be recited from memory. 
  • Poems must be chosen from the POL Anthology.

Filming requirements: 

  • Film with a horizontal orientation.
  • Face the camera so it captures your head to mid-torso (medium shot). 
  • Each recitation should be filmed in one single shot from one static angle.
  • The sound and picture must be clear.
  • Videos cannot be edited. 
  • Do not add music, graphics, titles, virtual backgrounds, or computer animation. 
  • Use of professional recording studios is prohibited. 
  • Each recitation requires its own separate video. 


  • Stand in front of a neutral background, if possible. Try to avoid wearing clothing in similar colors to the background. 
  • Don’t place light sources behind you to avoid being backlit. 
  • You may look directly into the camera, at a fixed spot, or at an imagined audience. 
  • Make sure you are the only visible and audible person in the video. 
  • Use a microphone, if possible. If the microphone is on the camera, position the camera close to you. 
  • Start recording a few seconds before the recitation and stop recording a few seconds after the end.

Poetry Out Loud Awards

Each winner at the state level receives $200 and competes in the national finals. The state winner’s school receives $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for their school. At the national finals, a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually.  


  • This competition is for students who do not have a school competition to compete in. If your school is holding a school-wide competition, you must participate in that competition to qualify for regionals. 
  • Grade Level: Only high school students in grades 9-12 are eligible to compete, with an exception made for 8th-grade students participating in a 9th- through 12th-grade class. Homeschool students are welcome and encouraged to participate. 
  • Legal Participation Requirements: No student may be excluded from participating in Poetry Out Loud on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. Schools may determine eligibility for classroom and school level Poetry Out Loud programming pursuant to local and state law. 
  • Prize Requirements: The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded in Poetry Out Loud. State champions and runners-up will need a valid tax identification number or social security number at the time that monetary prizes are issued by the Poetry Foundation. 


In order to participate in this competition, students must fill out this registration form and attach their video files by no later than Friday, January 21. The winner(s) will be announced on Friday, January 28.

REGISTRATION FORM: https://forms.gle/jYcDUVCiY46zoa6d7  

Key Dates:

January 21, 2022: Deadline to register for the Waterfall Arts competition and submit video files

January 28, 2022: Announcement of winner(s) from the Waterfall Arts competition

February 4, 2022: Deadline to submit recitation videos for Regional Finals

February 21, 2022: Announcement of Regional Winners

March 2022: State Finals details TBA (anticipated in person competition)

April 25-27, 2022: National Semifinals & Finals

For more information about the Waterfall Arts Poetry Out Loud competition, please contact Amy Tingle at amy@waterfallarts.org.

For more information about the Maine Poetry Out Loud program, please contact Meg Fournier, Interim Performing Arts & Media Director at the Maine Arts Commission, at megan.b.fournier@maine.gov.

Please visit the national Poetry Out Loud site to explore and learn more about this great program.

Banner image: WATERVILLE, ME- MARCH 11: Joao Victor of Lewiston High School shouts with joy after he was named winner in the Poetry Out Loud state final held at the Waterville Opera House on Monday, March 11, 2019. Other contestants behind him from left are Emily Campbell of Waterville High School, Hanna Lavenson of Messalonskee High School and Magnolia Vandiver of George Stevens Academy. (Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming/Staff Photographer)