Poetry Ourselves Competition

April is usually crowned month of Poetry. Although its coming to an end but that’s no reason not to still celebrate. Earlier this month the sixteen high schoolers who were the finalists in the 2024 Poetry Out loud Illinois State Regionals were invited to write original poems for the third annual Illinois Poetry Ourselves contest. Sheila Walk is the education director of the Springfield Area Arts Council and manager of both competitions.  Six Illinois regional coordinators were asked to judge students’ creations and no names or home schools were visible during the judging.  The Illinois Arts Council sponsored and oversaw Poetry Ourselves.

Life now enjoys a softened hue/Where my bruises fade, and the day begins anew/Beneath the bones the tightness can release/While above the bones I hope to find my peace.

Lila Peck a junior from Deerfield High School (in a Chicago suburb) placed first, with her powerful poem “Beneath the Bones.” This poem is a testimony how there is always hope after a long struggle.

You’re ingrained into my very being/the memory of you stays alive in my cells/I fell too hard/ and now it’ll never feel right. 

These haunting words about love and the pain that sometimes accompanies it were penned by Nico DeGuzman a junior from Chester High School (in southern Illinois) who took second place, with her poem, “To Break a Bone.”  

The winner received a specially-designed award.  The other Poetry Ourselves participants received a writing journal.

Poetry Out Loud is offering an additional competition for original student work for the 2024 National Finals. Each 2024 state champion will have the opportunity to submit one original work of either written or spoken poetry. A winner and runner-up will be selected for each category. Winners and runners-up will be announced on Thursday, May 2nd and winning work may be featured on the National Endowment for the Arts website and the Poetry Out Loud website.

              This program is made possible with support by the Illinois Arts Council Agency 



“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.