Illinois 2012 Poetry Out Loud State Champion


Illinois Arts Council Announces Poetry Out Loud State Champion

From a competitive field of nearly 6,000 students from across the state, Carolyn Muller, a senior from Champaign Central High School in Champaign, received the title of 2012 Poetry Out Loud Illinois State Champion at the statewide competition hosted by the Springfield Area Arts Council in Springfield, on Thursday, March 29, 2012. Muller recited “Infelix” by Adah Isaacs Menken, “Dirge Without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and “Ovation” by Carol Muske-Dukes.  Springfield Southeast High School junior Charday Crawford won first runner-up, reciting “a song in the front yard” by Gwendolyn Brooks, “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns, and “Conversation” for Robert Lowell by Ai.  Ms. Muller will advance to the national competition to be held in Washington, D.C., in mid-May.

The Illinois State Champion Carolyn Muller received an award of $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship. Ms. Muller’s school received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. First runner-up Charday Crawford received $100, with $200 for her school library.

Other contestants in the Illinois State Contest were:

Sam Chao, Niles West High School (Skokie) Final Round; Amanda Clark, Auburn High School (Rockford);  Kenneth DuMez, Northside College Preparatory High School (Chicago); Michelle Gonzalez, Maine East High School (Park Ridge); Brianna Gray, United Township High School (East Moline); Kaniah Jackson, Mather High School (Chicago); Arianna Keleher, Orion High School (Orion); David Kessler, Centennial High School (Champaign) Final Round; Megan Kessler, Clay City High School (Clay City); Xavier Kimbrough, Auburn High School (Rockford);  Carly Piland, Springfield High School (Springfield); Zachary Rimkus, Edwardsville High School (Edwardsville) Final Round; Maggie Scudder, Carbondale Community High School (Carbondale); Ryan Serfas, Edwardsville High School (Edwardsville).

Contest staff for the 2012 Illinois State Contest included recitation judges Ryan Collins (Rock Island), poet and teacher; Linda Gorham (Aurora), storyteller; Judy Jordan (Anna), poet; and Kevin Purcell (Petersburg), actor and director.  Théa Chesley (Springfield), librarian and poet, was the accuracy judge, and Aasne Vigesaa (Springfield) was the prompter.  Maureen Williams (Chatham) served as scorekeeper.  Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, physical presence, evidence of understanding, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, and accuracy.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, (in Illinois) to a regional competition, then the state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. At the state finals in Springfield, Poetry Out Loud contestants recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 680 classic and contemporary poems. Now in its sixth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover classic and contemporary poetry. The Poetry Out Loud anthology, a website,, a teacher’s guide, and media samples of poetry recitation were created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation as free educational resources for high school students and teachers.

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, and Puerto Rico.  The Illinois Arts Council implements Poetry Out Loud statewide in collaboration with seven regional not for profit arts 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, Sheila Walk, email:, phone: 217/753-3519

  • Chicagoland (City & Suburbs): 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

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