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Poetry Out Loud Competition – Regional Qualifier

January 1 - January 22

Waterfall Arts is partnering with the Maine Arts Commission to host a qualifying round for the Maine Poetry Out Loud (POL) program. Maine high school-aged students who do not have a school competition to participate in to qualify for the Maine Regional competitions are eligible to participate. Homeschooled students are welcome!
To participate, students choose from an anthology of poems and send in video files of two recitations by Friday, January 22th. The POL anthology can be found here: https://www.poetryoutloud.org/search
Local judges use a set of criteria created by Poetry Out Loud to judge recitation performance and accuracy. Winners for this round will be announced January 29 and will be eligible to register for the Maine Poetry Out Loud Regional competitions. The deadline for registering for the Regional competition is February 5. Regional winners proceed to the State competition to vie for a shot at Nationals.
When ready to enter, use this link to register and submit videos:
Contact bridget@waterfallarts.org with further questions.

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 above by no later than Friday, January 22. Recitations will be judged according to the Poetry Out Loud evaluation criteria, which can be found here, along with great tips on reciting: https://www.poetryoutloud.org/competing/tips-on-reciting/
Recitation Requirements:
  • Students must submit two video files – one file for each poem recitation.*
  • 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 Poetry Out Loud Anthology: https://www.poetryoutloud.org/search/?type=poem
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.
*Note: only two poems are required for this competition and can be any poem included in the POL anthology. At the Maine regional and state finals, students must have three poems prepared. One must be 25 lines or fewer, and one must be written before the 20th century (the same poem can be used to cover both).
More tips and resources to get you started can be found here: https://www.poetryoutloud.org/…/what-its-like-to-compete/

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. 

Key Dates:

January 22, 2021: Deadline to register for the Waterfall Arts competition and submit video files

January 29, 2021: Announcement of winner(s) from the Waterfall Arts competition

February 5, 2021: Deadline to submit recitation videos for Regional Finals

February 22, 2021: Announcement of Regional Winners

March 5, 2021: Deadline to submit recitation videos for State Finals

March 15, 2021: Announcement of State Winners

May 2, 2021: National Semifinals

May 27, 2021: National Finals

For more information about Waterfall Arts’ Poetry Out Loud competition, please contact Bridget Matros at bridget@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.

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 this year. 

Register here


January 1
January 22
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Waterfall Arts Belfast
256 High Street
Belfast, 04915 United States
(207) 338-2222


Waterfall Arts
(207) 338-2222