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.

Read About the National Program

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.

How To Register

Registration is now open for high school teachers who would like to participate in Iowa Poetry Out Loud 2015-2016.

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 Council of Teachers of English (ICTE) Conference in Johnston, Iowa on Thursday and Friday, October 8-9, 2015
• The Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) Conference in Ames on Saturday, October 10, 2015

Important Dates

Poetry out Loud 2015 champions

2015 Iowa State Champions

Friday, December 4, 2015: Deadline for teachers to register their schools to participate in Poetry Out Loud 2016.

Friday, February 12, 2016: Deadline to register school contest winners for Iowa State Finals Contest.

Sunday, February 28, 2016: Iowa Poetry Out Loud State Finals, Iowa State Historical Building in Des Moines

Sunday, March 6, 2016: (Snow Date) Iowa Poetry Out Loud State Finals, Iowa State Historical Building, Des Moines, IA

Monday-Wednesday, May 2-4, 2016: Poetry Out Loud National 2016 Finals, Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, Washington, DC. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC


“I think Poetry Out Loud is awesome. You learn three amazing poems and memorize them and practice over and over and it's really cool to see the happiness on your parents faces when they hear you perform them.”
-Rakailla Pauley, Denison High School

Rakailla Pauley

Rakailla Pauley


Iowa State Finals Contest

Iowa Poetry Out Loud State Championship

Poetry Out Loud Banner



Read the Poetry Out Loud School Champion Information document for full details.

Sunday, February 28, 2016
(snow date Sunday, March 6, 2016)
1 p.m.*
Iowa State Historical Building
600 East Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0290

Please plan to turn off your cell phones to respect the concentration of each performer.

for contest orientation and publicity photographs.

Reiko Cunningham Art Piece

Iowa Poetry Out Loud trophies are a work of art! (by Reiko Cunningham)

Matthew Sutija

“I think it is a great opportunity to continue an art that started with Ramayana, The Iliad, King Gesar... and will continue as long as there is language.”
- Matthew Sutija of Pella High School, coached by Suzanne Jones


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: beginners learn how to select a poem, (introductory “Choose Your Beast” Workshop, described below) and everyone practices how to embody the words and changing moods of a piece of evocative text (“Be the Poem” workshop). 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.

Ellen Podhajsky

“I love how Poetry Out Loud allows a student to explore poetry in such an intense way. Memorizing a poem has such an effect on how its meaning is interpreted and poetry becomes much more interesting to me when I've put so much thought into it.”
- Ellen Podhajsky, Marshalltown High School

Student Information

Three Finalists

Top three finishers celebrate! L-R: Yvette Hermann (Iowa State Coordinator), Ellen Podhajsky (Marshalltown High School), Josie Kasik (Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School) and Rakailla Pauley (Denison High School)

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 by December 4, 2015. 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 Feb 28, 2016. (Snow date March 6, 2016.)

If you are the winner from your high school, WOW! Congratulations!

1) Register to participate in the Iowa State Finals Contest by Feb 12, 2016.
2) Be sure to select and memorize three poems for the state contest Feb 28, 2016. (Snow date March 6, 2016.)
3) Contact Yvette Hermann at or 917-628-3633 if you have any questions at all.
4) 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

“My freshman year, when I was first introduced to Poetry Out Loud, I thought it was the most nerve-wracking thing ever. I stuttered through both of my selections, and I still cringe when I think about it. But after four years of participation, I love it. And now that I've moved on this far, I can tell that it has given me a lot of confidence. The confidence to speak in front of crowds, and to put myself out there. So I think that Poetry Out Loud is a great competition, and a fun thing to participate in. Not only does it improve confidence, but it also inspires an appreciation for performance arts and literature, which is very important. “
-Jordan Brendeland, Roland-Story High School

Champion Spotlight

Josie Kasik

2015 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion Josie Kasik

2015 Iowa State Poetry Out Loud Champion
Josie Kasik
Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School, Sioux City

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 live and work in Iowa, and I design and facilitate literacy, poetry, writing, acting and theatre workshops and classes for kindergarten through college-aged participants. I am thrilled to be the statewide coordinator for Iowa; I have loved Poetry Out Loud since my novice teaching days. Poetry Out Loud is my favorite way learn alongside students. The built-in choices and sharing opportunities allow teachers to relax and observe students; there are natural connections to all speaking, reading and listening core standards; the depth and breadth of choices at is staggering. 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!