Poetry Out Loud2020-03-31T05:45:55+00:00

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.

April 2020 marks the 15th anniversary of Poetry Out Loud. Since its inception, the program has reached more than 3.8 million high school students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Illinois 2020 : 10,130 students and 210 teachers from 42 high schools participated.

Read 2018-19 National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chair Mary Anne Carter letter here

A video of the 2018 Illinois state contest, produced by UMedia.

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

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.

2020 Illinois State Poetry Out Loud Contest Winners

Photograph of Hsu and Weidner (William Richards, photographer; Award designed by Jensine Stickley)

THE SPRINGFIELD AREA ARTS COUNCIL ANNOUNCES

ILLINOIS STATE POETRY OUT LOUD WINNERS

 

“Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?

   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.”

These lines from “To Autumn” by John Keats were among those recited by Charles Hsu (Deerfield High School), the 2020 Illinois State champion in the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest.  The competition was held on Monday, March 2, 2020, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield.

To win the competition, Hsu also recited “Learning to love America” by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim and “I Am Offering this Poem” by Jimmy Santiago Baca.  Hsu will advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C., in late April.

Elizabeth Weidner from Teutopolis High School was declared the runner-up.  Rounding out the top five were Scottlynn Ballard (Edwardsville High School), Jada Cox (Jefferson High School, Rockford), and Sylvia Hughes (Eureka High School).

The Illinois State Contest featured recitations by two students from each of eight Poetry Out Loud regional contests in the state:  Belleville, Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago-City, Chicago-Metro, Rockford, Rock Island, and Springfield.

 Photo: The Contestants

Other students participating from around the state:

Nada Abdulaziz, Jefferson High School (Rockford)

Nereyda Anguiano, Rolling Meadows High School

Regan Cook, Bureau Valley High School (Manlius)

Erin Englebright, Agape Christian High School (Marion)

Paige Graves, Agape Christian High School (Marion)

Catherine Herrera, Taft High School (Chicago)

Grace Lambert, Sacred-Heart Griffin High School (Springfield)

Arian Mizan, University of Illinois Laboratory High School (Urbana)

Adam Stein, Freeburg High School

Alishiana Uyao, Mather High School (Chicago)

Taylor Walton, Orion High School

  Photo: Judges (left to right) : Anderson, Betts, Duchrow, Mathis, Chesley, Degler-Whitmer 

Contest staff for the 2020 Illinois State Contest included 

Recitation Judges:

Tara Betts, Chicago – poet and teacher

Stephen Duchrow, Elgin – performer and arts administrator

Karen Hunter Anderson, Rochester – educational administrator and writer

Rapheal Mathis, Chicago – poet and performer

Accuracy Judge:  Théa Chesley, Springfield – poet and librarian

Prompter:  Julia Degler-Whitmore, Mattoon – singer and arts administrator

Scorekeeper:  Bob Jessup, Springfield

M.C.:  Jim Leach, Springfield

Special guest at the contest was Susan Dickson, program director at the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Poetry Out Loud in Illinois is a collaborative project of the Illinois Arts Council Agency and seven arts 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 Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

In Illinois this year, 42 high schools were part of Poetry Out Loud.  210 teachers.  More than 10,000 students.

“Among the benefits of the Poetry Out Loud program is that it helps young women and men find something they’re good at.  These students are so brave and talented and insightful,” said Sheila Walk, contest organizer, during the post-contest reception, “and they are competitive yet supportive of one another.”

More information is available at www.poetryoutloud.org or from the Springfield Area Arts Council.

Photo: Hsu and Dickson

Photo: Weidner and Dickson

2020 Central Illinois Regional Contest Held: Sixteen students from around Illinois will participate in state-wide poetry recitation contest

Photo: Alternate Joy Brown, Springfield High School, with Lambert and Hughes at central Illinois regional contest – Hoogland Center for the Arts – February 13, 2020  (Photographer: Kari Bedford)

“A poet is someone who can pour light into a cup, then raise it to nourish your beautiful parched, holy mouth.”  حافظ  Hafiz

Sixteen students from around Illinois will participate in state-wide poetry recitation contest.

Scottlynn Ballard, Edwardsville High School senior, will return to Springfield to defend her 2019 championship title.

Grace Lambert, Sacred-Heart Griffin High School, and  Sylvia Hughes, will represent the Central Illinois region.

Award-winning teenagers from around Illinois are set to compete in Springfield for a slot in the 2020 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest in Washington, D.C., in late April. This event is free and open to the public. It is set to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Monday, March 2, 2020, in the LRS Theatre of the Hoogland Center for the Arts at 420 South Sixth Street in downtown Springfield.

The Springfield Area Arts Council will host sixteen high school students who were winners and runners-up in competitions held this month in eight regions spanning Illinois. Starting in their own classrooms, these students study, memorize, and recite renowned classic and contemporary poetry at each level of competition. A panel of poets, teachers, and performers judges each recitation. The state champion will receive a trip to the nation’s capital to join a field of fifty-three students vying for the top prize, a $20,000 scholarship.

The Springfield Area Arts Council coordinates this annual contest in partnership with the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Poetry Out Loud is backed by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Now in its fifteenth year, the contest is designed to encourage interest in poetry at the high school level. In Illinois this season, over 10,000 students and 200 teachers from more than 40 Illinois public and private high schools participated.

More information available at www.poetryoutloud.org.

Poetry Out Loud Footage – 2019 National Book Festival

The NEA hosted 2019 POL National Champ Isabella Callery (Minnesota) and National Runner-up Scottlynn Ballard (Illinois) at the National Book Festival this year. They were in conversation with poet and national finals judge Jericho Brown, and they both recited gracefully and spoke eloquently about POL and their connection to poetry. You can find the footage of the session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdEGN7NRcC0

Illinois State Champion Takes Second Place At Nationals

Illinois’ own Scottlynn Ernestine Ballard won second place at the Poetry Out Loud National Competition in Washington, D.C. on May 2nd, 2019. She is a junior at Edwardsville Senior High School.

(Watch a video of her recitation of  “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy on YouTube)

Minnesota’s Isabella Callery (Anishinaabe), a senior at Arcadia Charter School, received first place. Georgia’s Alejandro J. Campo, a junior at Flowery Branch High School, won third.

More than 275,000 students across the nation participated in this year’s Poetry Out Loud competition. The competition started in the classroom, then moved forward to school, regional, and state competitions.  Champions from all fifty states as well as Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and  District of Columbia  participated in the national final.

The Poetry Out Loud national finals are administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency and other state arts agencies. Since 2005, 3.8 million students from 16,000 high schools nationwide have participated in this program.

2019 State Poetry Out Loud Contest Winners Announced

Photo: Illinois State Champion Scottlynn Ballard with Special Guest Justine Haka with award designed by Jensine Williams [Photographer: William Richards]

 Scottlynn Ballard from Edwardsville Senior High School (Edwardsville) was declared the winner at the Illinois State Contest of the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest held on Friday, March 8, 2019, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield.  She will advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C., in late April.  To win the competition, Scottlynn recited “Worth” by Marilyn Nelson, “Self-Help” by Michael Ryan, and “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaunessy.

Alyssa Argent, William Howard Taft High School (Chicago), was named runner-up.  Rounding out the top five were Nico Chiligiris (Central High School, Champaign), Charles Hsu (Deerfield High School, Deerfield), and Bushra Khan (Maine East High School, Park Ridge).

The Illinois State Contest featured recitations by two students from each of eight Poetry Out Loud regional contests in the state:  Belleville, Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago-City, Chicago-Metro, Rockford, Rock Island, and Springfield.

2019 Central Illinois Regional Contest

Right: Cassandra Bradbury and Courtney Wick  Left: Cassandra Bradbury, Cole White, and Sara Kennedy [Photographer: William Richards]

Cassandra Bradbury and Cole White of Pawnee High School were the top two finishers in the competition.  They will advance to the Illinois State Finals in Springfield at the Hoogland Center for the Arts on Friday, March 8, 2019, at 10:00 A.M.

Springfield Southeast High School’s Sara Kennedy was named as an alternate.

The Illinois State Contest will feature recitations by two students from each of eight Poetry Out Loud regions in the state:  Alton, Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago-City, Chicago-Suburbs, Rockford, Rock Island, and Springfield.  The Illinois State Champion will advance to the national contest in Washington, D.C., in late April.

Over 1,395 students and 35 teachers began the 2019 Poetry Out Loud season in central Illinois last fall.  18 students competed the Central Illinois Regional contest. There name are:

Khadija Dear and Ella Smith, Eisenhower High School (Decatur)

Genna Nielsen and Danielle Rogers, Eureka High School (Eureka)

Bethany Bergschneider and Madden Delaney, Franklin High School (Franklin)

Grace Henderson, Lutheran High School (Springfield)

Emma Halteman and Jamie Hefley, Rochester High School (Rochester)

Claire Carter and Ruthie Kinion, Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (Springfield)

Ian Unsbee, Southeast High School (Springfield)

Joy Brown, Springfield High School (Springfield)

Claire Bushur and Tory Tensen, Teutopolis High School (Teutopolis)

Contest staff for the 2019 Central Illinois Regional Contest included

Recitation judges:  Anne Bishoff, Reggie Guyton, Nikki Overcash

Accuracy judge:  Thèa Chesley

Prompter:  Jerry Johnson