Springfield Area Arts Council

Photograph by William Richards. Left to right: Bella Szabo (Arts Council Executive Director), Richards (First), Arisman (Third), Meyer (Second)


Photo: Bella Szabo (Arts Council Executive Director), Richards (First), Arisman (Third), Meyer (Second). Photograph by William Richards.

From “When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be” By John Keats:

Then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

These words, among those recited by Ashyla Richards of Springfield Southeast High School, earned her first place in the Central Illinois Poetry Out Loud Contest held at the Hoogland Center for the Arts on Thursday afternoon, February 15, 2024 .

Ella Meyer of Springfield Lutheran High School and Avery Arisman of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School were the second- and third-place finishers in the competition. 

Richards and Meyer will advance to the Illinois State Contest on March 11th.  The Illinois State Contest will feature recitations by two students from each Poetry Out Loud region in the state.  The Illinois State champion will advance to the national contest.

More than 1,000 students and 22 teachers in 6 schools began the 2024 Poetry Out Loud season in central Illinois last fall.

Other contestants in the Central Illinois Regional Contest were

Nadia Currie and Jillian Garcia, Eisenhower High School (Decatur)

Morgan Hoekstra and Aryana Ruiz, Eureka High School (Eureka)

Marianna Curtis and Emma Selhime, Pawnee High School (Pawnee)

Anna Reeder, Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (Springfield)

Kallie Padget, Southeast High School (Springfield)

Contest staff for the Central Illinois Regional Contest included 

Coordinator:  Sheila Walk

Recitation judges:  Tim Crawford, John Paul Jaramillo, L J Pemberton

Accuracy judge:  Anne Bishoff

Scorekeeper:  Bob Jessup

Prompter:  Carey Smith

Poetry Out Loud in Illinois is a collaborative project of the Illinois Arts Council Agency and seven agencies, each of which hosts a regional contest.  The Poetry Out Loud:  National Recitation Contest is a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through analysis, memorization, performance, and competition.  The National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, in conjunction with state arts agencies, support this nation-wide program with participants from all fifty states plus American Somoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

More information is available at www.poetryoutloud.org.