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Poetry Out Loud (POL)

Poetry Out Loud (POL)

Poetry Out Loud: Celebrating Poetry in Maryland Schools

The words of great poets literally come to life in Poetry Out Loud (POL), a literary arts program created by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation. Through MSAC support, students across Maryland are enriched by this national arts education program that encourages the mastery of great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) congratulates 17-year-old Angeline Faieq of George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Baltimore County on becoming the 2017 Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Champion. The Maryland Poetry Out Loud (POL) State Finals were held March 18, 2017, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, hosted by Aaron Henkin of WYPR. Wendel Patrick was the musical guest.

Faieq recited "In the Desert" by Stephen Crane; "Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy" by Thomas Lux; and "What You Have to Get Over" by Dick Allen.

Tanaka Mukudzavhu, a freshman at Boonsboro High in Washington County placed second, and Nick Selser, a senior at James M. Bennett High in Wicomico County placed third. Amy Nguyen, a junior at Saints Peter and Paul High in Talbot County won the original poem competition, Poetry Ourselves, with her poem “Drifting.” (Text below.)

In 2017, more than 9,300 Maryland students and 250 teachers in 46 schools and 14 counties participated in the Maryland Poetry Out Loud (POL) program, with the strongest ten students advancing through a series of school and regional competitions to reach the Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Finals.

The 2017 program marks the 12th year of this poetry recitation contest for high school students that is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and The Poetry Foundation, and administered by U.S. state arts agencies across the country. Total Maryland student participation has reached 116,000 over the past 12 years.

Through POL, students learn about their literary heritage, build self-confidence, and improve their public speaking skills. 

The Maryland State Champion receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Finals, April 24-26, 2017, at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. The National Finals are free and open to the public, and are also broadcast via livestream on the evening of April 27 at 7:00 p.m. on the Poetry Out Loud website.

The Maryland winners’ school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his/her school library.

The National Poetry Out Loud awards total $50,000 at the National Finals, with $20,000 awarded to the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

The State Semi-Finalists were invited to submit an original poem for Poetry Ourselves, a written competition created by the NEA and open to participating states to include in their finals. The State Finals judges voted on the submissions prior to the competition and the top three were read after the third round of recitations. First place went to Amy Nguyen, a junior at Saints Peter and Paul High School in Talbot County for "Drifting."



By Amy Nguyen


The night is dark with the memories of your broken promises.

My mind meanders through endless thoughts while the wind is shifting.

The ghost of you stains my heart.

Like the waves of vast oceans, I feel us drifting.


I feel us drifting, further and further apart.

Torn away by the same tide that pulled us together.

It took me too long to realize,

The time I had with you was such a treasure.


Just as the soft breeze blows the willowy fields,

My thoughts float aimlessly through the skies.

No particular destination,

As I sit and contemplate all your little white lies.


And here I am, watching you under the pale moon of night.

I struggle to grab ahold of you, but nothing will make you stay.

My hands reach for you, but my feet stay grounded.

And so I wait, as you drift farther and farther away.



Pictured above, top: 2017 Maryland Poetry Out Loud Champion Angeline Faieq. Pictured above, bottom: Group photograph of the 2017 Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Finals Winners.


Maryland's 2016 Poetry Out Loud State Finals:





Poetry Out Loud in Maryland has grown tremendously over the last eleven years. To conduct the program, registration is limited to the first 15 schools per region (for a total of 45 schools). Counties with many schools will be restricted, to preserve representation from the entire state. 

Region One: Allegany County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Cecil County, Frederick County, Garrett County Harford County, Washington County

Region Two: Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Calvert County, Charles County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, St. Mary's County

Region Three: Caroline County, Dorchester County, Kent County Queen Anne's County, Talbot County, Somerset County, Wicomico County, Worcester County

Each school's first place winner will go straight to one of three regional competitions (with a second place winner as back up).

Three winners from each region will go on to the State Finals. 

Dates of regionals are Saturdays in February, 2017. For full information (uploaded in November, 2016), click on the "Maryland Competitions" link in the sidebar. 

Maryland State Finals are March 18, 2017, 1:00 pm, at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Since 2005, nearly 4.7 million students have competed in Poetry Out Loud nationwide. That's almost 4.7 million students who have learned at least one poem by heart!

In Maryland, approximately 107,000 students have participated in the program, learning the power of poetry firsthand. 



Please note that the 2016-17 POL Teacher’s Guide reflects the following changes:

·         All POL lesson plans will only be available on the website here. The three lesson plans that traditionally appeared in the hard copy teacher’s guide have been moved online. The NEA offers 12 lesson plans online, tailored to POL and covering a wide range of topics. We encourage POL teachers to visit the Teaching Resources section of to view lesson plans and other helpful information.

·         Level of Complexity is no longer a separate scoring criteria for Poetry Out Loud. POL teachers, see your Teacher's Guide for more information.

·         The accuracy score sheet now lists specific deductions for omitting an epigraph and/or including a footnote during competition. The NEA will also be adding a note to each poem in the online anthology that includes an epigraph or footnote. Please scroll to the bottom of Brenda Cárdenas's "Zacuanpapalotls"  to see an example of this note.

·         The NEA has rewritten some of the descriptive language for the Overall Performance and Dramatic Appropriateness categories. POL teachers, students, and judges: please review these categories closely.