Springfield Area Arts Council
Black and White Logo. Poetry is in a speech bubble at the top coming out of a clip art microphone next to the words Out Loud

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 2024 season marks the 19th anniversary of Poetry Out Loud. Since its inception, the program has grown to reach more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations in every state, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Illinois 2022 : 4597 students and 127 teachers from 28 schools participated.




Illinois Poetry Out Loud 2023 from Dave Cain / UMEDIA, Inc.

The Illinois Arts Council Agency works with these regional partners to produce Poetry Out Loud in Illinois:

      • Southern: ArtSpace 304
        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.

2024 Contest Dates:

Thursday, February 15
4:00 P.M.
Peggy Ryder Theater, Hoogland Center for the Arts

Monday, March 11
10:00 A.M.
LRS Theater, Hoogland Center for the Arts

April 30-May 2
Lisner Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

2024 Central Illinois Regional Contest

Ashyla Richards, Springfield Southeast
Ella Meyer, Springfield Lutheran
Avery Arisman, Sacred Heart-Griffin

Ashyla Richards of Springfield Southeast High School, earned 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, LJ Pemberton
  • Accuracy judge:  Anne Bishoff
  • Scorekeeper:  Bob Jessup
  • Prompter:  Carey Smith