Iowa Arts Council and ArtForceIowa team up for Poetry Out Loud

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

For many students, memorizing and reciting a poem in front of their class can be a nerve-wracking experience.

But that’s exactly what 570 Iowa students in 14 high schools did last year when they signed up for Poetry Out Loud, an arts education program that helps them master public speaking skills and build self-confidence while learning about their literary heritage. This year, teachers are encouraged to register their schools at by Dec. 9 to participate in the program in 2017.

Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in 2005, the program encourages students to participate in local and state recitation contests. State winners advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C., where they compete for $50,000 in college scholarships and stipends for their schools. Programs are administered nationwide by state and jurisdictional arts agencies.

“Poetry Out Loud offers schools and educators an opportunity to extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom,” said Matthew Harris, administrator of the Iowa Arts Council, which oversees the program in Iowa. “Participants develop an appreciation and understanding of great poetry and develop skills that will serve them their entire lives. I encourage teachers to register their schools for Poetry Out Loud.”

As a new component for the 2016-2017 school year, the Iowa Arts Council is partnering with ArtForceIowa to support and expand Poetry Out Loud in Iowa. This new partnership will enable the program to reach underserved student populations throughout the state and provide them an opportunity for creative expression.

“Poetry Out Loud is a program with a direct path to a national stage, and a new generation of youth artists have embraced rap and spoken word poetry as a means of expressing themselves” said Yvette Hermann, Program Director at ArtForceIowa, “Poetry Out Loud gives Iowa high school students and teachers the opportunity to read a wide variety of poetry and use these masterworks to mentor their own writings and performances. We are proud to help widen the reach of this program.”