2005-2006 IATE Poetry Contest Winners

Here's a list of recipients of Special Merit awards, their schools, and their nominating teachers. Winning poems can be viewed by clicking the students' names.

  • Victoria Ertl, “Candy Wrappers and Deodorant,” Buffalo Grove High School, Ms. Lauren Stenzel
  • Anna Friel, “Careless,” Lyons Township High School, Mr. Glen Brown
  • Amanda Godek, “Lela Lohr,” Stevenson High School, Ms. Elizabeth Maxwel
  • Josh Winchester, “On a Hymnsong of Holden Caulfield,” Mt. Vernon Township High School, Ms. Ann Garrett
  • Rosalie Zaccone, “Next Year,” Bureau Valley High School, Ms. Kathleen P. Haurberg
  • Kelsi E. Robb, “Beaten,” Dunlap Middle School, Ms. Barbara Blanton
  • Emma Li, “A response to: Road Past View / by Georgia O’Keeffe,” Wiesbrook Elementary School, Ms. Terry Tavine

We come to love poems by means of various seductions and allures. This seduction comes to us, of course, via the medium of language, but its modes are many and subtle.

Of these, my favorite, at least for today, is a poem's ability to surprise. That element of surprise may arrive by a sud­den recognition, some epiphany that brings poet and reader to revelation that is both lasting and memorable. Sometimes surprise inheres in the very subject the poet chooses, a topic so unique or an angle of seeing so fresh it brings readers the rush of the new. Other times surprise resides in the smallest of choices, in the very words a poet speaks, in their sounds and meanings-in their ability to astonish and give pleasure. To astonish and give pleasure-is this not what good poems do?

While all of the winning poems exhibit this quality to varying degrees, the poems listed below best embody this measure of surprise and its rewards. These poems have earned my designation as Poems of Exceptional Merit.

Congratulations to all the winners. May both your lives and your culture be blessed by your rich appreciation of the art of poetry.

- Kevin Stein, Illinois Poet Laureate