The Magic of Speaking Poetry Out Loud

A National Contest Makes Verse More Social Than Solitary

Last year, approximately 365,000 high school students participated in Poetry Out Loud—memorizing and reciting poems in organized competitions held across all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By almost any standard, Poetry Out Loud constitutes a huge success in a period when cultural success stories seem rare.

In retrospect, successful ventures often seem inevitable. But it has been my experience that excellent notions often fail to take hold and prosper, especially in the arts. For that reason, it may be helpful …