State Arts Council Announces 15th Annual Poetry Out Loud State Final Competition

High school students in Rhode Island compete in national poetry recitation contest

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts announces the state finals for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. On Sunday, March 8, eleven high school students from eleven Rhode Island high schools will participate in the Poetry Out Loud state finals in the James P. Metcalf Auditorium, at the RISD Museum.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC.   Since its inception, 3.6 million students from 14,000 high schools nationwide have participated in Poetry Out Loud.  

At the Rhode Island State Finals in the Metcalf Auditorium at the RISD Museum, contestants will recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. Students participating in the Poetry Out Loud program have benefited from educational materials created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. These standards-based curriculum materials include an online anthology, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download these free resources at www.poetryoutloud.org.   The competition included over 2700 Rhode Island High School students and involved 44 teachers.

Our community partners include RISD Museum, The Providence Athenaeum and the Rhode Island Center for the Book.


Poetry Out Loud Awards

The winner of the Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island finals will receive $200, and the winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library.  The state champion of the Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island final will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with an adult chaperone) to compete in the national finals in Washington, DC, on April 27–29, 2020. The Poetry Out Loud national finals will present a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Rhode Island Poetry Out Loud finals at James P. Metcalf Auditorium in the Chace Center of the RISD Museum

The Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island finals will take place on March 8, 2020 at 1 pm in the James P. Metcalf Auditorium in the Chace Center of the RISD Museum. The event is free and open to public. For more information on the state finals, visit 


About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit arts.gov.

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs. For more information, visit


About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA)

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency, supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders.