Sixth Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards Celebrates Young Writers Across Illinois

For Immediate Release: August 3, 2022

Press Releases

Read Time 5 minutes
August 3, 2022

“I couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of you,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. “Here’s to the next generation of Poets Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning writers.”

CHICAGO, August 3, 2022

Illinois Humanities, in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, Brooks Permissions, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, is proud to announce the winners of the 2022 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards, an annual competition for Illinois poets in grades K–12. The 25 winners and 12 honorable mentions were chosen from a record 445 submissions representing 70 schools from across the state.

The winning poets will be celebrated on Saturday, August 20 at 1:00 p.m. at a public ceremony at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in Chicago. The ceremony will be hosted by Emily Lansana, and award winners will recite their poems as part of the ceremony. This year, Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson will read a poem at the ceremony in honor of the winning students. Guests can RSVP to attend here.

“Congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions of the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “In the words of the late great Gwendolyn Brooks, ‘poetry is life distilled.’ Thank you for sharing a slice of your lives with us. I couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of you. May you never forget the power that language has to inspire hearts, move minds, and change worlds. Here’s to the next generation of Poets Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning writers.”

Gwendolyn Brooks began the Youth Poetry Awards in 1969 during her tenure as Illinois Poet Laureate, and continued to administer the awards until her passing in 2000. The original youth poetry awards were born out of Ms. Brooks’ belief that a poet laureate, “should do more than wear a crown—[she] should be of service to the young.”

In 2017, in honor of the centennial of Ms. Brooks’s birth, Illinois Humanities joined with the Poetry Foundation, Brooks Permissions, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts to revive the awards to honor the tremendous legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person ever to win a Pulitzer Prize, and to celebrate and amplify the words and experiences of young poets from across Illinois. In the six years since the revival of the awards, over 1,800 poems have been submitted from young poets all across the state.

“The annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards ceremony celebrates the vibrant community of youth poets across the state of Illinois, who each year demonstrate the wisdom, power, and creativity of our state’s young people,” said Gabrielle Lyon, executive director of Illinois Humanities.

The Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards competition runs annually from October through May and is open to young Illinoisans in grades K–12. This year’s winners will receive a monetary prize provided by Illinois Humanities as well as gift bundles that include poetry anthologies from the Library of America and materials from the Poetry Foundation to inspire a budding writing practice.

The 2022 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Award Winners are:

  • “The Stars and the Sun and the Moon” by Sherlin Dominguez, Peoria
  • “Lion Pet” by Willa Bedwell, Oak Park
  • Honorable Mention: “My Sister and Me” by Harper Causley, Peoria
  • “I see something yellow” by Samantha Chansiri, Chicago
  • “There are bunnies” by Lucy Orr, Oak Park
  • Honorable Mention: “Sunset of the Flowers” by Charlotte Tyler, Peoria
  • “A Wonderful Morning” by Aiden Hampton, Chicago
  • “Dear America” by Emily Watkins, Chicago
  • Honorable Mention: “The Way” by Violet Locke, Peoria
  • “Venus” by Sofie Pop, Skokie
  • “Life of Loneliness” by Mathew Bohanon, Skokie
  • Honorable Mention: “The wind is wishing” by Olive Morton, Oak Park
  • “Sunrays” by Rayaan Ansari, Skokie
  • “Space” by Jackson Best, Skokie
  • Honorable Mention: “The Valkyries’ Silken Touch” by Caroline Field, Skokie
  • “White Rabbit” by Laila Garay, Skokie
  • “King Cobra” by Taksh Taware, Lisle
  • Honorable Mention: “The bloomy, gloomy forest” by Julian Liss, Oak Park
  • “We Are All Americans: My Grandma’s Story” by Lyra Rivera, Evanston
  • “So you want to be a hustler” by Julian Cromwell, Chicago
  • Honorable Mention: “On the Kitchen Table” by Luke Sindt, Oak Park
  • “Frolics of Spring” by Hannah Hufana, Skokie
  • “The Little Things” by Maddy Lehman, Lake Forest
  • Honorable Mention: “The Concrete Jungle” by Shawn Dengler, Waukegan
  • “Earth” by Nathan Louie, Skokie
  • “I speak to the twilight” by MiKaylah Brown, Caseyville
  • Honorable Mention: “Front Row Seat” by Daniela Kasalo, Skokie
  • “Staring at Pretty Magazines” by Angelina Wyrwas, Chicago
  • “Home, said I, a thing of central” by Franklin Hughes, Chicago
  • “The Mindspace” by Reginald Armstrong Jr., Chicago
  • Honorable Mention: “Joy vs. Abyss” by Brooks Lansana, Chicago
  • “Great-Grandmother” by Trinity Arias, Oswego
  • “An Ode to Whiskey and Cigars” by Allie Petraitis, Aurora
  • Honorable Mention: “Putting a Tie on a White Tee” by Michael Hightower, Chicago
  • “A Sinner’s Confession” by Kaleena Vose, Oswego
  • “Jesus to blk boys” by Kae Osei, Plainfield
  • Honorable Mention: “Life in Key of C” by Katie Dunn, Aurora

Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. Founded in 1974, Illinois Humanities is supported by state, federal, and private funds. Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.


The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, visit

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The Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and have been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. Additional support is provided by Abrams Books, Library of America, and Allstate.