Young Poets Pen Prize-winning Poems

Two teen winners have been announced for the inaugural Illinois POETRY OURSELVES contest. Naomi Kelly from Wheaton Warrenville South High School (in Chicago suburb Wheaton) placed first, and Thaddeus Bergschneider from Franklin High School (in the central Illinois village of Franklin) took second.

The pair wrote and submitted their own authored poems and were two of seventeen high-schoolers invited to compete. Entries came from students who had been named Illinois finalists in a national competition for reciting classic and contemporary poems, Poetry Out Loud.

“I am thrilled that our state launched this new venture that brings teens and poetry together,” said Sheila Walk, executive director of the Springfield Area Arts Council and manager of both competitions. Walk stated she asked the eight Illinois regional coordinators to judge students’ creations and made sure no names or home schools were visible during the judging. The Illinois Arts Council Agency sponsored and oversaw POETRY OURSELVES.

“The skill and passion evidenced in these works bring a wonderful spotlight to young people in Illinois. They are creative and insightful,” said Walk when announcing the winning poems.

“Arm the Children” by Bergschneider is a plea. It says in part “…give them hope…give them words…give them love / which knows / that the only loss / is not to fight at all.” He is a junior in a high school with approximately 80 students.

Wheaton senior Kelly penned “The Places You’ll Go.” She wrote in part “…I witnessed humanity grapple against itself…I witnessed the innocent pay the price.” The population of her school stands at about 1,900 students.

Winners will receive specially-designed trophies. All POETRY OURSELVES participants received a writing journal.

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