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Springfield hosting Illinois' Poetry Out Loud competition

Poetry Out Loud

Teens from 16 schools across Illinois will compete in Springfield in the 2024 Poetry Out Loud contest. They will be vying for a slot in the national event in Washington, D.C., in early May.

The state event is free, accessible, and open to the public. It is set to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Monday, March 11, 2024, 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 in February 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-four students vying for the top prize of $20,000.

The Illinois State Contest will feature recitations by two students from each Poetry Out Loud region in the state. Ashyla Richards of Springfield Southeast High School earned first place in the Central Illinois Poetry Out Loud Contest held Feb. 15. She will compete Monday along with Ella Meyer of Lutheran high School, who was a second place finisher. 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

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 eighteenth year, the contest is designed to encourage interest in poetry at the high school level. In Illinois this season, over 7,000 students and 205 teachers from 44 Illinois public and private high schools participated.

More information is available at www.poetryoutloud.org.


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