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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: Held February 23, Hoogland Center for the Arts, Springfield, IL

Illinois State Contest: Held 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.

2017 State Poetry Out Loud Contest Winners

Illinois Champion Mariah Brooks, Southeast High School, Springfield.  To win the competition, Brooks recited “The Song of the Feet” by Nikki Giovanni, “Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday” by Robert Hayden, and “On Virtue” by Phillis Wheatley.  She will advance to the national contest in April.  Photograph by William Richards.

Illinois Runner-up Amber Price, Maine East High School, Park Ridge.  As runner-up, Price will represent Illinois only if Ms. Brooks is unable to attend the competition.


2017 Central Illinois Regional Contest Winners


Above Left   2017 Poetry Out Loud Central Illinois Regional Contest winner Mariah Brooks, Southeast High School Springfield.

Above Right  2017 Poetry Out Loud Central Illinois Regional Contest runner-up, Wynton Gage, Southeast High School Springfield.
Photographs by William Richards

In the Central Illinois Regional Contest held February 23, Abbegayle Skelton, a student at Eureka High School, was named as the alternate.  Twenty-seven students competed on the regional level.  Represented in the contest were the following high Schools: Eisenhower (Decatur), Eureka, Franklin, Havana, Lutheran (Springfield), Morrisonville, Nokomis, Pawnee, Quest Charter (Peoria), Rochester, Sacred Heart-Griffin (Springfield), Springfield, Southeast (Springfield), and Virginia.  Mariah and Wynton advance 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.

In 2017, Poetry Out Loud has included 310,000 students, 8,000 teachers, and 2,300 schools across the nation.  In Illinois, 7,460 students, 164 teachers, and 48 high schools participated.  Since the program began in 2005, more than 3.3 million students, 50,000 teachers, and 12,000 schools across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.

Partner Organizations