Poetry Out Loud 2024 Illinois State Winner!!!

Spring definitely made an appearance in Springfield last Monday on March 11th. The sun was shining, the weather was warm and breezy, the ideal day for the Poetry Out Loud 2024 Illinois State Competition. In Illinois this year, 44 high schools were part of Poetry Out Loud, 205 teachers, and over 7,000 students. Sixteen students represented Illinois’s eight regions competed at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

The state competition featured recitations by winning students from each of eight state regions:  Central, Chicago-City, Chicago-Metro, Eastern, Northern, South-central, Southern, and Western. The top five finalists included Chicagoland’s very own Lila Peck and Yohanna Endashaw who were both the runner-up (Peck) and winner (Endashaw) of the Chicagoland Metro/Suburban Regionals back in February.

Each of the five finalists gave outstanding performances. Yet, Yohanna Endashaw’s was destined to become our Illinois State Poetry Out Loud Champion for the second year in a row. Judges were moved by her third-round recitation of the poem Sonnet: On Being Cautioned Against Walking on an Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because It Was Frequented by a Lunatic. by Charolette Smith. Endashaw’s other recitations were “Once the World Was Perfect” by Joy Harjo and “You, If No One Else” by Tino Villanueva.  Yohanna Endashaw is from Niles West High School in Skokie and will advance to May’s national competition in Washington, D.C.

Congrats also to Kate Roth from Champaign Central High School in Champaign who is the runner-up in the Illinois State competition.

Here are names, high schools, and hometowns of regional winners from the eight Illinois regions.

Jesus Chavarria – Stephen T. Mather, Chicago

   Nico DeGuzman – Chester, Chester

   Leo Dunahee (finalist) – Nashville Community, Nashville

   Maya Hatch – Edwardsville Community, Edwardsville

   Ryan LeBeau– Thomas Jefferson, Rockford

   Ella Meyer – Lutheran, Springfield

   Ravin Morey – Annawan, Annawan

   Lila Peck (finalist) – Deerfield, Deerfield

   Andrea Portilla – Thomas Jefferson, Rockford

   Anna Probst – Teutopolis, Teutopolis

   Ashyla Richards – Southeast, Springfield

   Gabriel Sakoda –Frederick Von Steuben, Chicago

   Norah Washington – Edwardsville Community, Edwardsville

   Eleanor Wilbur (finalist) – Orion, Orion

The State program manager was Susan Dickson of the Illinois Arts Council Agency.  The contest coordinator was Sheila Walk, education director of the Springfield Area Arts Council.   Recitation judges were Nana Becoat, Allison Funk, Ted Morrissey, and Christopher Sims. The Accuracy judge was Anne Bishoff, with Carey Smith as prompter, and Bob Jessup as Scorekeeper.

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:  National Recitation Contest 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.

More information is available at Poetry Out Loud

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

Photographs of Endashaw and students from each of eight state regions: (taken by Joy Young, Chicagoland Regional Coordinatoor.) 

(Awards designed by Dominic Celiini; photograph of Kate Roth, Yohanna Endashaw and Angelique Grandone were taken by William Richards)



“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.