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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 27, 2005

First Lady and Illinois Poet Laureate encourage young authors to participate in statewide writing contest

SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich and Kevin Stein, Illinois’ poet laureate, today encouraged Illinois students to submit their original work to the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) Best Illinois Poetry and Prose Contest. The contest is open to students from 6th through 12th grades.  Entries must be postmarked by January 31, 2006.  This is the second year the First Lady has partnered with IATE to promote the competition.
 
“Poetry is a great form of personal expression and I encourage all Illinois students to participate in this year’s IATE Poetry and Prose Contest.  I enjoyed reading last year’s entries and am looking forward to what students submit this year,” said First Lady Patti Blagojevich.
 
"This statewide poetry contest encourages students to believe their words matter.  It also shows young people the power of language to express and reflect on their life experiences," said poet laureate Kevin Stein. 
 
Stein, the fourth poet laureate since the creation of the post in 1936, gives frequent poetry readings around the state and maintains a website (http://poetlaureate.il.gov) to feature other Illinois poets, including young people. Coordinating a statewide writing contest for the youth of the state was one of his initial goals after being appointed in December 2003. He also serves as the Caterpillar Professor of English at Bradley University in Peoria.
 
The First Lady chaired the committee that chose Stein as poet laureate.  The first place entries are published in the fall issue of the Illinois English Bulletin, and a selection of the pieces will be posted on the poet laureate’s website. The First Lady and poet laureate also send certificates of congratulations to the winners of the contest.  Approximately 30 poetry and 30 prose entries win first place each year.
 
The Illinois Association of Teachers of English, the oldest English organization in the U.S., is based at the Department of English of Illinois State University in Normal. The Illinois English Bulletin is also published there. IATE membership is open to any individual interested in English instruction, English language, and literature. Currently, IATE has 1035 members statewide.
 
Only IATE member teachers can submit entries, which should be clear and legible on standard sized paper and postmarked by January 31, 2005. Poems are to be no longer than 40 lines and prose is to have no more than 1000 words, with no illustrations. A panel of judges, including the poet laureate, will read submitted work and choose the winners. Other rules can be found at the IATE website, http://www.english.ilstu.edu/iate. First place honorees will be notified in the summer of 2006.
 
Poetry should be submitted to:             IATE Poetry Contest
Robin L. Murray
Department of English
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920
 
Prose should be submitted to:            IATE Prose Contest
Kimberly M. Radek
Division of English, Mathematics, and Education
Illinois Valley Community College
2578 Easts 350th Road
Oglesby, Illinois 61348-1099


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