The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) conducts the state Poetry Out Loud recitation competition. Produced on a national scale by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, the program provides scholarships to high school students and cash to purchase poetry books to winners’ school libraries. 

With assistance from Art Spark Texas, TCA organizes the statewide program, providing the schools with Poetry Out Loud lesson plans, resources, and the opportunity to work with Texas poets. Students choose poems to memorize and recite from the Poetry Out Loud anthology. Schools hold competitions to determine the student who will go on to the statewide competition. The statewide competition is held in February. The statewide winner receives $200, while his or her school library garners $500. The state’s second place winner receives $100, and his or her school library, $250. 

The statewide winner represents Texas at the national competition in Washington, DC in late April. The winner of that competition receives a $20,000 scholarship.  

2020-2021 Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TCA will conduct the 2020-2021 Poetry Out Loud program virtually in Texas. Participation will be open to high schools, and nonprofit organizations serving high school students, throughout the state of Texas. Home school students will be accommodated preferably through their local home-schooling association/group or else through inclusion in an organization’s competition, if possible. 

TCA created a series of video recordings with Texas-based poets to assist with teaching Poetry Out Loud. Check out the TX Poetry Out Loud YouTube page for those recordings. 

For general information on the Poetry Out Loud program, please visit www.poetryoutloud.org/. 

For information on participating in the Texas program, please contact Anina Moore at 512/936-6573 or anina@arts.texas.gov or Derek Mudd at 512/936-6563 or derek@arts.texas.gov.