On Feb. 13, two Springfield High School Students competed in the Regional Poetry Out Loud competition at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. Seniors Joy Brown and Katie George represented SHS as the winners of the school competition and presented their poems. Joy, who placed third overall, will be an alternate representative for the Central Illinois region at State.
Poetry Out Loud is a “national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free education materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country” according to their official website. Poetry Out Loud utilizes a pyramid structure, which involves a primary classroom competition, one at the school level, a regional competition, State and Nationals. Successful competitors at the state and national levels can win money for themselves and their schools.
Joy has been involved in Poetry Out Loud since her freshman year when participation was required for an assignment grade at her old school. She had a lot of success, winning her classroom competitions her freshman and sophomore years and her school competition her freshman year. Joy decided to continue participating when she came to SHS and recited her poetry at Regionals last year. This year, she, along with Katie, won the school competition.
This was Katie’s first year doing Poetry Out Loud, saying “I heard Mrs. Eaton was doing it and I like her so of course I was interested. I decided on a whim to compete and I’m glad I did.” Regarding the competition itself, Katie said, “I felt great on stage. For people who are interested in doing Poetry Out Loud in the future, I would say ‘Go for it!”
Joy recollected similar emotions about her Poetry Out Loud experience, sharing, “I would encourage people to do it in the future. It is a unique performance opportunity that is unlike anything I’ve done before.”
Joy, who said she “felt really good…and was happy with [her] performance,” will get to speak at State as the designated first competitor to go. Although she is the alternate and will not technically be competing, Joy will set the stage for her fellow competitors and warm up the audience and judges by reciting one of her two excellent poems.
Overall, both Katie and Joy agreed Poetry Out Loud is a fun experience for those wanting to do something fun and possibly step outside of their comfort zones. The process can appeal to many due to the multiple necessary parts involved in success. For example, Joy says her favorite part is “analyzing the poems and figuring out how to portray [their meanings] to the audience.” On the other hand, Katie’s favorite part was “being on stage and reciting the poems.” Katie also said, “When I stood in front of the audience, I felt I conveyed the right message of both poems and that made me feel proud of myself.” So whether you are looking for more confidence, love performing or are simply in love with poetry itself, maybe you should consider doing Poetry Out Loud next year!