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Poetry Lovers: Register Now for the Virtual Poetry Out Loud Competition

Douglas McArthur, Nada Abdulaziz, Jada Cox (left), Nada Abdulaziz, Kate Kilgore, Jada Cox (right)

Photos from March 2, 2020 Poetry Out Loud state competition at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield.

The Northern Illinois Poetry Out Loud competition is in its 16th year. As regional coordinator for the competition I have the pleasure of witnessing the perseverance and determination of each high school student participating in the annual recitation contest.

Jefferson High School English and speech teacher Doug McArthur has been encouraging students to reach their highest potential at the local, state and national levels of competition. For more than a decade, Jefferson students have participated in the Poetry Out Loud competition with the support of McArthur, their coach. “I’ve never met anyone who is dedicated to his team and students as much as McArthur,” said Amina Hussein, Jefferson alumna and former Poetry Out Loud competitor.

Last year, McArthur’s students Nada Abdulaziz and Jada Cox competed in the Poetry Out Loud Regionals, where they took first and second place and qualified for the state competition in Springfield. In March 2020, McArthur drove the JHS speech squad to Springfield to support Nada and Jada. Nada and Jada competed with 14 regional winners for the honor of participating in the national competition in Washington, D.C. and for a chance at winning a school prize of $50,000. Although they did not make it to Nationals, Jada Cox finished in the top five at Springfield.

This year’s Northern Illinois Poetry Out Loud Regional competition will be hosted virtually by the Rockford Area Arts Council at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 16. To compete students will record a memorized poem for submission. Click here to register for the Poetry Out Loud competition. The registration deadline is Jan. 31.

You can watch the Feb. 16 competition on or on the RAAC Rockford Area Arts Council Facebook page.

For more information about Poetry Out Loud, programs, grants and events, contact Kate Kilgore at or visit

Kate Kilgore

Kate Kilgore

Kate Kilgore is the education and community engagement director for the Rockford Area Arts Council.

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