Regional Poetry Out Loud winners advance to state competition

Pictured from left: Malik Yusef, spoken-word poet and Poetry Out Loud regional judge; Amanda Clark of Rockford Auburn High School, Poetry Out Loud regional first runner-up; and Xavier Kimbrough of Rockford Auburn High School, Poetry Out Loud regional winner. (Photo provided)

Staff Report

Two area high school students will represent northern Illinois in the State Poetry Out Loud Competition in Springfield, Ill., Thursday, March 29.

Rockford Auburn High School students Xavier Kimbrough and Amanda Clark were the winner and runner-up, respectively, of the regional Poetry Out Loud competition Feb. 23 at The Rockford Baha’i Center. Both will move on to participate in the state competition March 29, while Jacob Dokken of Rockford Jefferson High School will serve as the alternate.

The winner of the state competition advances to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals May 13-15 in Washington, D.C., where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.

The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington (with an adult chaperone) to compete at the National Finals.

The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The runner-up will receive $100; his or her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

A total of $50,000 in scholarship awards and school stipends will be awarded at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship award for the national champion.

The Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest is a free national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

Poetry Out Loud encourages youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, which help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary heritage.

Last year, more than $100,000 in prizes was awarded to students and schools.

The Rockford Area Arts Council was one of seven organizations throughout the state that was asked to hold Poetry Out Loud regional competitions. Volunteer judges for the regional event were George E. Davis, Jessica MacDonald, Wilda Morris, Dorothy Paige-Turner and Malik Yusef. Chief tabulator was Julie Palkowski, and Tricia Sheridan served as prompter. Local poet Christopher Sims was the emcee and host of the event.

We were highly impressed with the student presentations this year and pleased to have five schools participate,” said Sharon Nesbit-Davis, education/engagement director of the Rockford Area Arts Council. “New to the competition this year was Freeport. We hope more will join us in 2013.”

Teachers interested in learning more about Poetry Out Loud should contact Nesbit-Davis at the Rockford Area Arts Council at (815) 963-6765 or via e-mail to

From the March 7-13, 2012, issue

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