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The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a competition that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through analysis, memorization, and recitation.  The program helps teens master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.
The National Endowment for the Arts recently issued these statistics to mark Poetry Out Loud’s growth over the twelve years of the program: Since 2005, almost 2.5 million students, 7,300 schools, and 45,000 teachers have participated in Poetry Out Loud nationwide.  In addition, more than $920,000 dollars in prizes and school stipends have been awarded.  Including judges and staff and audiences, there have been more than 4.7 million participants over the program’s twelve-year history!

Read NEA Chairman Jane Chu’s letter  from 2016 here.

The Illinois Arts Council Agency works with regional partners to produce Poetry Out Loud in Illinois.
Central: Springfield Area Arts Council
Chicago and Suburbs: Springfield Area Arts Council and Rockford Area Arts Council
Eastern: 40 North/88 West
Northern: Rockford Area Arts Council
Southern: Carbondale Community Arts
Southwestern: Southwest Illinois College
Western: Quad City Arts

Dates for the 2017 contests

Central Illinois Regional Contest: February 23, Hoogland Center for the Arts, Springfield, IL

Illinois State Contest: March 10, Hoogland Center for the Arts, Springfield, IL

National Competition: April 24 – 26, Lisner Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

For more information, please visit www.poetryoutloud.org or call 217-753-3519, or you may email Central Illinois regional coordinator Sheila Walk at programs@springfieldartsco.org.

2016 State Poetry Out Loud Contest Winners

Brooks and Price

Above right  First Place Winner Mariah Brooks, Springfield (Southeast High School).  She represented Illinois at the National competition in Washington, D. C.

Above left  Runner-up Amber Price, Park Ridge (Maine East High School).
Photograph by William Richards

A media release followed the state competition on March 11.  You may read it by clicking on the highlighted link.

Statistics for participation in Poetry Out Loud 2016 at the regional level in Illinois:
45 High Schools
110 Teachers
3,673 Students


2016 Central Illinois Regional Contest Winners

Mariah BrooksAleeya Reed

Above Left   2016 Poetry Out Loud Central Illinois Regional Contest winner Mariah Brooks, Southeast High School (Springfield).

Above Right  2016 Poetry Out Loud Central Illinois Regional Contest runner-up, Aleeya Reed, Decatur Eisenhower High School.
Photographs by William Richards

In the Central Illinois Regional Contest held February 10, Ryan Brady Devlin, a student at Virginia High School, was named as an alternate.  Fifteen students competed on the regional level.  Mariah and Aleeya advanced to the Illinois State Competition to represent Central Illinois.  The eight regions in the state are: Alton, Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago-City, Chicago-Suburbs, Rockford, Rock Island, and Springfield.

Statistics for participation in Poetry Out Loud 2016 at the regional level in Illinois:
9 High Schools
20 Teachers
1,414 Students

Partner Organizations