Poetry Out Loud Competition

by Rylee Yerkes


The Poetry Out Loud competition was held December 12th in room 006 during Falcon Period. During this competition, students recited poems by memory and were judged by all of the teachers in the English department. The winner of this in-school competition will advance to the next level of competition: the state finals. The location has yet to be decided for the state finals, but it will be hosted on March 5. There, contestants will recite three poems with the rest of the champions from Pennsylvania. Finally, the winners of the state competitions will participate in the national semifinals on April 24 at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington D.C. This competition will be broadcasted live. Finally, on April 25, the national finals will occur. The semifinals and finals at the Lisner Auditorium are free to attend and open to the public.  Making it to the national finals is a huge accomplishment; the best competitors in all of America will attend.

Schools that are registered with their state Poetry Out Loud coordinator are considered eligible to be in the competition, and students in grades 9-12 can compete. The competitors are required to choose their poem from the Poetry Out Loud print or online anthology, which can be accessed through this link. The website is updated every summer to include even more poems.

You can find  the rest of the criteria for the three poems recited at both the state and national finals here.

“At the state and national finals, students must have 3 poems prepared. One must be 25 lines or fewer, and one must be written before the 20th century. The same poem may be used to meet both criteria, and may be the student’s third poem.”

The in-school contest evaluation sheet’s criteria allowed a maximum score of 6 for most categories; 1 as weak, 2 as below average, 3 as average, 4 as good, 5 as excellent, and 6 meaning outstanding. The different categories were as follows: physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance. The “overall performance” category had a different ranking system; 1 as weak, 2 as below average, 3 as average, 5 as good, 7 as excellent, and 9 as outstanding. One teacher kept track of the student’s accuracy (meaning how many words are correctly recited), the greatest score possible being 8 points. The total from the contest evaluation sheet and the accuracy judge’s score add up to make a maximum final score of 41 points. More information about the POL contest can be found here.

All of the contestants worked hard and did their best in the competition. The students who competed and the poems they recited are:

Laura Talaber, grade 9: “Enemies” by Wendell Berry

Jaide Jones, grade 9: “The Ocean” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Katherine Lovelidge, grade 9: “Lazy” by David Yezzi

Hailey Rapolla, grade 10: “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

Trinity Sobers, grade 11: “I, Too” by Langston Hughes

Congratulations to Katherine Lovelidge who won the competition and will be advancing to the regional finals!

The participants highly recommended trying out the contest. “You should practice your poem and not do it last minute to get the most out of the experience,” Hailey Rapolla advised. The contest will be held again next year, and it’s a great opportunity to try something new!

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