Illinois 2010-2011 Poetry Out Loud State Champion

Illinois Arts Council Announces Poetry Out Loud State Champion: Morgan Joyce Williams of Springfield High School Moves on to Nationals

ILLINOIS -- Illinois’ 2010-2011 Poetry Out Loud State Finals took place Friday, March 11, 2011 in Springfield’s Hoogland Center for the Arts. The Illinois Arts Council is pleased to announce that Morgan Joyce Williams, a senior at Springfield High School, has been named State Champion. 

Williams recited “What Work Is” by Philip Levine, “A Hymn to God the Father,” by John Donne, and “A Psalm of Life,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national championship on April 28-29. Springfield High School also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books, and a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded to winners at the national championship.

Rapheal Mathis, a sophomore at Plainfield East High School, won runner-up for his recitals of “Booker T. and W.E.B.,” by Dudley Randall, “I felt a Funeral in my Brain,” by Emily Dickinson, and “I Am Offering this Poem,” by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Mathis receives $100, with $200 for his school library. 

The Illinois Arts Council is grateful to the Springfield Area Arts Council for hosting the state contest for the 6th consecutive year, and congratulates Illinois’ regional contest winners:   

  • Christopher Grimestad of Mt. Zion High School (final round)
  • Ryan Harrison of Edwardsville High School (final round)
  • Corey Shayman of Deerfield High School (final round)
  • Joy Avery of Auburn High School – Freshman Campus in Rockford 
  • Sophia Magro of Champaign Central High School
  • Henry Martinez of Roberto Clemente Community Academy in Chicago
  • Bailey Cote of Edwardsville High School
  • Katie Butler of Herrin High School
  • Skylar Drummond of Herrin High School
  • Qaswa Hussaini of Mather High School in Chicago
  • Nathan Walter of Orion High School
  • Niambi Thompson of Roosevelt High School in Rockford
  • Amanda K. Wales of United Township High School in East Moline
  • Kahlilah Cooke of University Laboratory High School in Urbana  

About Poetry Out Loud in Illinois

More than 5,000 students from 57 Illinois high schools participated in this year’s Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, a free program created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to encourage youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. 

The Illinois Arts Council implements Poetry Out Loud statewide in collaboration with seven regional partners. For more information regarding Illinois' regional and school Poetry Out Loud competitions, please contact the partnering organization directly:

  • Central Illinois: Springfield Area Arts Council, Penny Wollan-Kriel, email:, phone: 217/753-3519
  • Chicagoland: Literature for All of Us, Liz McCabe, email:, phone: 847/869-7323
  • Eastern Illinois: 40 North/88 West (Champaign), Kelly White, email:, phone: 217/351-9841
  • Northern Illinois: Rockford Area Arts Council, Sharon Nesbit-Davis, email:, phone: 815/847-5382
  • South Central Illinois: Jacoby Arts Center (Alton), Melissa Mustain, email:, phone: 618/789-4626
  • Southern Illinois, Carbondale Community Arts, Nancy Stemper, email:, phone: 618/457-5100
  • Western Illinois, Quad City Arts (Rock Island), Tracy Alan White, email:, phone: 563/579-7630

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation is also honored to provide travel support for regional and state finalists of Poetry Out Loud in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Learn more about the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest at


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