Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a National Recitation Contest created by the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation. The California Arts Council supports this exciting program to encourage the California youth master their public speaking skills, develop self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

The Fresno Arts Council hosts the regional Poetry Out Loud competition at the Fresno City Council Chambers in City Hall. Fresno County high school students compete to determine a winner who will represent the County in the state Poetry Out Loud competition held in Sacramento in March.


The California winner will receive $200 and will compete in the National Poetry Out Loud Recitation Competition in Washington, D.C with all expenses paid. The national winner is awarded a $20,000 scholarship. This competition is sponsored by the Fresno Arts Council, the California Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Poetry Out Loud is an excellent way to learn great poetry. The program aims to teach students poetry via memorization and performance. It has vastly improved over the years as there are dynamic variations you could incorporate with this oral art form. The slam poetry movement and immense popularity of hip-hop music greatly affects how the youth perceives this form of art.

For more information or to sign up, please call the Fresno Arts Council at (559) 237-9734. For more information about Poetry Out Loud, click here for their website.

2012 Poetry Out Loud California Competition

Mohammad Shehata, a senior at Clovis West High School in Fresno County, was the first runner-up and will represent California in the national finals if Gomez is unable to attend. – Photo by Brian Baer © 2012 Brian Baer