Iowa Arts Council - Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Contact: Yvette Zaród Hermann
Teaching Artist
Iowa Arts Council Poetry Out Loud Coordinator

Poetry Out Loud

About Poetry Out Loud

Welcome to Poetry Out Loud!

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 United States. Poetry Out Loud was created in partnership by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation with the collaboration of state arts agencies.

Poetry Out Loud in Iowa is administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

About the Program

The Poetry Out Loud contest uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the high school classroom level, teachers implement a two-to-three week curriculum using free, standards-based materials including print and online poetry anthologies containing more than 600 classic and contemporary poems, a teacherís guide, and a CD/DVD on the art of recitation. Classroom studies culminate with a contest in which each student selects and recites poems from the Poetry Out Loud anthology. Classroom winners advance to school-wide recitation competitions, and school champions advance to regional and state competitions, and ultimately to the National Finals.


The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will present $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists.

Iowaís state champion will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship. The Iowa championís school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. At the National Finals, a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded as prizes.

Why it Works

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry - recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of rap music among youth. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.


Poetry Out Loud curriculum materials are free for participating schools. The Iowa Arts Council will provide a teacherís guide, an audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers performing poetry, a DVD of students performing poetry, a classroom poster and a door poster to promote in-school contests. Contact to request materials for your school contest. For information on poetry out loud nationally or to view the complete poem anthology, visit

How To Register

Registration is now open for high school teachers who would like to participate in Iowa Poetry Out Loud 2014-2015.

To register your high school to participate in Iowa Poetry Out Loud, simply fill out the registration form and submit. You will be redirected to Iowa Poetry Out Loud Registration on to register.

Register Now.

Look for Poetry Out Loud and get your hands on some fabulous free teacher kits at:
• The Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) Conference in Ames on Saturday, October 5, 2015
• The Iowa Council of Teachers of English (ICTE) Conference in Johnston, Iowa on Thursday and Friday, October 9-10, 2015

Important Dates


Friday, February 13, 2015

Deadline to Register School Contest Winners for State Finals Contest

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Iowa Poetry Out Loud State Finals, Des Moines

Sunday, March 8, 2015

(Snow Date) Iowa Poetry Out Loud State Finals

April 27-30, 2015

Poetry Out Loud National Finals Contest, Washington DC


Iowa State Finals Contest

Iowa Poetry Out Loud State Contest
Sunday, March 1, 2015 (snow date March 8, 2015) | 1 pm*
Iowa State Historical Museum
600 East Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0290

The Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Finals are free and open to the public.
Please plan to turn off your cell phones.

for contest orientation and publicity photographs.


Free Poetry Workshops

yvette teaching Teachers: the Iowa Arts Council is here to help bring Poetry Out Loud to your school! The Iowa Arts Council will arrange for a expert teaching artist to work with your students on poetry recitation: from how to select a poem (introductory “Choose Your Beast” Workshop, described below) to how to embody the words and changing moods of a piece of evocative text (“Be the Poem” workshop) to your class or club during or after the school day, at any time of the year. Send your request, including school address, and ideal dates and times, to or use our Poet Visit Request Form.

While Iowa Arts Council teaching artists mostly work in English, speech and drama classes, we love the opportunity to workshop poetry in the context of a history, science or math class. We are also available for poetry readings, arts showcases or to facilitate student poetry slams.

Poetry workshop:

1) Choose Your Beast: a survey of poetry that encourages students to find a poet whose voice resonates with them. Highly interactive.

2) Be the Poem: an introduction to oral interpretation, dramatization and "spoken word" poetry. Student learn how to “be the poem” using voice, body and imagination. Highly interactive.

3) Slam a Poem: Students work with pieces of Poetry Out Loud poems and their own writing to find common themes and create a slam-worthy oral interpretation. (Each student needs independent access the Best in two sessions)

4) Found Poetry: A poet works with a teacher-selected text (fiction or nonfiction) to help develop a deeper understanding of themes and concepts by crafting poetry using the text as a source. Highly interactive. Appropriate for all disciplines.

5) Your Choice: We are also happy to work with classroom teachers to develop an appropriate workshop based upon goals for student learning.


Student Information

Right now through April 2015, Poetry Out Loud in Iowa is in full swing! Poets are visiting classrooms all over Iowa and students like you are selecting poems, memorizing, practicing and performing for judges.

If you are a current participant at a registered school, congratulations on your journey memorizing and performing two poems.

If you are not sure whether or not your school is registered to participate, email to check. Every school in Iowa is permitted to participate; but each school does need to register and designate a faculty coordinator. The faculty coordinator is responsible for preparing students for a Poetry Out Loud classroom contest and then a schoolwide contest. The student who wins the schoolwide contest will represent their school at the Iowa State Finals for Poetry Out Loud scheduled for March 1, 2015. (Snow date March 8, 2015.)

If you are the winner from your high school, WOW! Congratulations! You are a finalist in Iowa Poetry Out Loud 2015, our tenth anniversary year!

1) Be sure to select and memorize three poems for the state contest in March.
2) Contact Yvette Hermann at to enroll in the Iowa Poetry Out Loud State Finals no later than February 14, 2015.
3) Ensure you are familiar with Poetry Out Loud official contest rules and eligibility.

Click on Iowa State Finals Contest above to learn more about the big day.

Learn more about the program nationally at

"Poetry Out Loud was one of the greatest experiences of my high school years; poetry study and recitation will remain a major personal interest throughout my life as a result. I take with me a deeper appreciation for poetry in general, and fully realize how much power there is in the manner by which each word is spoken. I also acquired skills to present myself more effectively, simply by interacting with brilliant kids from throughout the nation."

- John-Emmet Mahon, Iowa Poetry Out Loud Champion 2010

Champion Spotlight

2014 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion Josie Evertt

2014 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Josie Everett
LAMB Arts Regional Theatre, Sioux City

2013 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Dakota Meyer
Iowa School for the Deaf, Council Bluffs

2012 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Gwen Morrison
Marshalltown High School, Marshalltown

2011 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Grace Rants
East High School, Sioux City

2010 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
John-Emmet Mahon
PeaceMakers Academy, Sioux City

2009 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Mia Pierson
Roland-Story High School, Story City

2008 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Emily Mortvedt
Roland-Story High School, Story City

2007 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Spencer Gilbert
Valley High School, West Des Moines

2006 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Ashley Baccam
East High School, Des Moines

Contact Us

yvette headshotYvette Zaród Hermann
Teaching Artist
Iowa Arts Council Poetry Out Loud Coordinator
(917) 628-3633

Meet Yvette
Hello! I am an actor, teacher, and spoken word artist. I am also an Iowa-certified Master Educator of English and an Iowa Arts Council Rostered Teaching Artist. I am thrilled to be the statewide contact for Poetry Out Loud for my second year; I have loved Poetry Out Loud since my novice teaching days. Poetry Out Loud (celebrating its tenth year in 2015!) is my very favorite way learn alongside students. The built-in choices and sharing opportunities allow you to relax and observe your students; there are natural connections to most speaking, reading and listening core standards. If you haven’t tried Poetry Out Loud before, I promise you will be amazed how much your students teach you about poetry. And if you are joining us again, thank you for being such a big part of why this program works!

Teachers, all of you! I would love to visit your classroom! Just email me or fill out a a quick form to request a Free Poetry Workshop with an experienced teaching artist. Reach me at