Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Burlington High School has been participating in this program for thirteen years. 

Zyann Sharkah, the 2018 BHS Poetry Out Loud Champion

Zyann Sharkah, the 2018 BHS Poetry Out Loud Champion

BHS House Rules

1. Poems performed by the top three finalists become ineligible for competition for the following year. For the 2019-2020 POL competition, the following poems are ineligible: I Eat Breakfast to Begin the Day by Zubair Ahmed, What I Learned From the Incredible Hulk by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, I Go Back To May 1937 by Sharon Olds, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne, On An Unsociable Family by Elizabeth Hands, A Fit of Rhyme Against Rhyme by Ben Jonson, and Epitaph by Katherine Phillips.

2. Students must recite a different poem each year. Freshmen, sophomores, seniors, and AP students can choose any poem from the Poetry Out Loud website that has been approved by their teacher. Juniors in American Literature must choose a poem written by an American author. Should a junior advance to the finals, they can choose any poem regardless of nationality.

3. In case of a numerical tie in any semifinal period, the finalist will be chosen by the five-member panel of judges. 

2019-2020 Dates

This year, students will complete in their classes by November 18th. Semifinals will be held on Friday, November 22nd. Finals will take place during LONG BLOCK FIVE on Tuesday, December 10th.

Why we participate

In addition to fulfilling many National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) expectations and aligning with Common Core standards, Poetry Out Loud also connects to Burlington High School's 21st century learning expectations and core values. Students are required to think critically when choosing and analyzing the poems they recite. In completing an assignment that is common across all grades and levels, students engage in an academic community with shared experiences. That participation, along with their active listening as audience members, helps students build empathy and demonstrate respect. Perhaps most prominently, however, Poetry Out Loud emphasizes effective communication. Students must convey evidence of their understanding of the poem they recite through the use of varied inflection, appropriate dramatization, clear articulation, and confident physical presence. While all of these reasons are motivation enough, what we value most is that Poetry Out Loud introduces students to unfamiliar poems, authors, and peers and allows them to ponder the power of language to connect us all.

For more information on BHS's POL program, click HERE for the 2018 BCAT feature on it.

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Regie Gibson performing at the 2017 BHS POL Finals

Regie Gibson performing at the 2017 BHS POL Finals

Celebrity guests

As part of our final competition each year, we invite community members to serve as judges and reach out to local authors to present some of their original work for students. Through the years we have been lucky enough to see poetic forces ranging from X.J. Kennedy and Sebastian Lockwood to Regie Gibson and Michelle Garcia. Students are exposed to the work of contemporary poets who are making a difference in the literary landscape. The fact that these poets generously donate their time and their work to support this program speaks to its importance and its impact.