New Poems from A Teen Poetry State Champion

Be in the lookout for this up-and-coming teen writer Yohanna Endashaw, who has just released her self-published book of poems, “Maturing In Free Verse.”

Book description: This is her journey, as a Black teenage girl, high achiever, and a daughter of immigrants. From the age of 10 to the cusp of adulthood at 17, these poems paint a picture of transformation, resilience, and discovery. Witness the evolution of innocence into introspection, as each poem is a snapshot of personal growth.


Yohanna Endashaw participated this year’s Poetry Out Loud 2023 Teen Recitation Competition. She won runner up in the Chicagoland Regionals Contests and excelled in the State Competition in Springfield this past March, where she became the Illinois State Champion and advanced to the nationals in Washington, D.C.

Poetry Out Loud in Illinois is a collaborative project of the Illinois Arts Council Agency and seven arts agencies who host regional contests.  As a national program, Poetry Out Loud 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, American, Samoa, and Puerto Rico.


This high achieving junior at Niles West High School in Skokie, is not only a published poet but an aspiring neuroscientist and the president and founder of Uplifting Health. Uplifting Health is an organization located in the Chicago suburbs that promotes health, equity, and advocacy for minorities, through the collection and donations of the basic healthcare items that all people should have access to. Yohanna proves that you’re never too young to inspire others whether it’s through poetry or helping your community.




Yohanna Endashaw’s book is now available here on Amazon.



Further information about the Poetry Out Loud Competition can be found at







“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.