The Chicago Poetry Center is now in its 5th year as Chicagoland Regional Host Organization for the national youth poetry competition, Poetry Out Loud.

In February 2022, teens from Chicago area city and suburban schools competed in the Chicagoland regionals for a spot at the statewide Poetry Out Loud poetry recitation competition and a chance to advance to the national competition in Washington DC in May to win $20,000!

In our second year of conducting the national event remotely, students were able to submit videos of their recitations to be judged by our panel. The first and second places from each region (city and suburbs) then progressed to the Illinois state competition level. The Illinois State Contest featured recitations by two students from each of eight Poetry Out Loud regions in the state:  Central, Chicago-City, Chicago-Metro, Eastern, Northern, South-central, Southern, and Western.

 Judges Panel for the 2021 Chicagoland Regionals were:

Chicagoland area Poetry Out Loud Coordinator: Timothy Rey, poet, educator
 Recitation Judges:
    • Davon Clark, poet, teaching artist
    • Leslie Reese, poet, teaching artist
    • Joy Young, poet, teaching artist
 Scorekeeper: Daniel Rey, Microsoft trainer
Accuracy Judge: Kelsey Wright, poet, teaching artist
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 Chicago Poetry Center is grateful for the support of the Illinois Arts Council Agency and for the opportunity to partner as regional hosts for Chicagoland.


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, Guam, and Puerto Rico.


Many thanks to the CPC poets and community that supported this effort. The Chicago Poetry Center thanks the Illinois Arts Council Agency for its ongoing partnership and support of this project.



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.