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Poetry Out Loud

Rachel Ezeadichie

Volume 4 Issue 2

January 16, 2024

Poetry Out Loud

A group of people sitting at desks in a classroom. Image provided by Sofia Owen

From the Elizabethan era to the current day, people have been sharing poetry for centuries. Poetry is a wonderful way to express yourself and analyze the world around you. Whether reciting or writing, poetry allows us to recognize how people feel about themselves and others. On December 13, 2023, students here at Valley Stream North recited poetry for their peers in the school-wide Poetry Out Loud competition. 

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts program that aims to inspire students through free educational materials and introduce them to the world of poem writing and recitation. The program aims to help students build their public speaking skills and self-confidence. One way they can do this is through their annual poetry recitation competition. Poetry Out Loud holds a national recitation contest every year for students in grades 9-12. Based on the competition level they reach, students who compete must memorize 1-3 poems to recite for a panel of judges who judge based on physical presence, articulation, interpretation, understanding of the poem, and accuracy. Once a student has won at a local level, they move on to regionals, then onto state and finally the national competition. Students prepare for the competition gradually over an allotted time, making sure their poem resonates with themselves and their audience. 

Students, who are recommended by their English teachers, here at North had been preparing their poems for recitation for a few weeks and have been working hard for this competition. They each picked a poem that they felt connected to and excited to recite. They then worked to memorize and properly interpret the meanings of their poems. Although mostly done independently, the contestants were not alone in their research. The competing students attended a virtual in-school field trip with Poetry Out Loud associate Dave Johnson. Students were given the opportunity to reflect on their poems and ask questions to help improve their recitations. Johnson worked one-on-one with students, asking questions about their poems, and allowing them to reflect on what their poems really meant to them. There was also a section where Johnson would answer the students' questions. He offered advice on how to relax and prepare for the competition before performing. The workshop was a wonderful way for students to get advice from a professional, giving students an insightful experience to remember. 

Poetry is a wonderful way to express yourself and this competition grants students the opportunity to show their friends and family the skills they have built. The members of North Star and Polaris want to congratulate the contestants and applaud them for their courage and efforts! 

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