House Rules

These are the in-house rules for the BHS Poetry Out Loud competition

Poems performed by the top three finalists become ineligible for competition for the following year. The following poems are banned from the 2017 BHS competition:

  • Sonnet 1 by Sir Philip Sidney 
  • To Live With a Landscape by Constance Urdang 
  • Adam’s Curse by William Butler Yeats 
  • A Fit of Rhyme by Ben Johnson 
  • Personal by Tony Hoagland 
  • Beautiful Wreckage by W.D. Ehrhart 
  • Bleeding Heart by Carmen Jimenez Smith 
  • “Idea #61: since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part” by Michael Drayton 

Juniors MUST select an American poet. British & World Lit. seniors MUST select a non-American poet. Eligibility of poets who lived and wrote in both America and elsewhere (T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, etc) will be left to the discretion of the classroom teacher. Should a student make it to the semifinals with an ineligible poem, that student will not be allowed to advance. Eligibility will be determined by a panel of English teachers.

Should a junior or senior advance to the finals, he or she may select ANY poem for the second performance, regardless of the poet’s nationality.

The finals consist of one semifinal winner per period, plus *one* Wild Card winner – the highest scoring performer who did not win his or her period. As of the 2015 competition, we can no longer offer more than 1 Wild Card spot. Should two or more students tie for the wild card spots, the winners will be selected by the panel of five semifinalist judges.

In case of numerical tie for the first-place scoring in any semifinal period, the winner will be determined by a vote from the five-member panel of judges.

If any finalist forfeits his or her position or cannot perform at the finals, he or she will be replaced by the second-place performer from the same period as the student who cannot continue.

Students are not allowed to perform the same poem in the semifinals that they have used to get to the semifinals in previous years.

Students are not allowed to perform the same poem in the finals that they have used to get to the finals in previous years.

Students may, however, use ANY Poetry Out Loud poems when representing Burlington High School at the statewide level, even if they did not use those poems to reach the state finals that year, or if the poem is on our in-house banned list.

We do not wish for the strategy of the order of the poems to become a deliberate part of our finals. Therefore, once a finalist declares the order of his/her 2 poems for the finals, that order cannot change. Any change to the order will result in a difficulty score of zero (out of a possible eight) for that competitor for both rounds, which will likely eliminate the competitor. If the student does not select the order of his/her poems in a reasonable time, the order will be selected for the student at random. The ordering of the poems will not be public until all finalists have decided upon their order.

The order of the semifinalists and the order of the finalists are selected at random.


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