DANVILLE – Danville High School student Isabella Cooper was one of two high school students who represented the eastern Illinois region during the 2017 Illinois Poetry Out Loud recitation contest sponsored by the Springfield Area Arts Council.
Cooper was among 16 award-winning high school students from eight regions around Illinois who competed March 10 in the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield for a spot in the 2017 Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest in Washington, D.C., in early May.
The teenagers who competed in Springfield were the winners and runners-up from regional competitions held in February that started in their own classrooms. Students studied, memorized and recited renowned classic and contemporary poetry at each level of competition, and a panel of writers, teachers and performers judged the recitations.
The state champion, Mariah Brooks from Southeast High School in Springfield, received a trip to the nation’s capital to join a field of 53 students vying for the top prize, a $20,000 scholarship.
The judging staff included Judith Kaufman of Highland Park (poet and editor); Mark McKnight of Urbana (musician and poet); Kevin Stein of Peoria (professor and Illinois’ poet laureate); and Thèa Chesley of Springfield (poet and retired librarian).
The Springfield Area Arts Council coordinated the 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 eleventh year, the contest is designed to encourage interest in poetry at the high school level. In Illinois this season, more than 7,460 students and 164 teachers from 48 Illinois public and private high schools participated.
Special guests at the competition were Willard Bunn, III, of Lake Forest, a Poetry Foundation trustee, and Susan Dickson from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
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 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 the nationwide program with participants from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.