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Performing Powerful Poems: Poetry Out Loud

By Jisha Jinu

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts program designed to motivate high school students all around the United States to engage in poetry. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation and state art agencies, the competition aims to help students master public speaking, build self-confidence and capture the art of poetry.


The school-wide competition was held on Thursday, December 7 at 3:00 pm in the library classroom. Participants were required to select a poem under 25 lines that resonated with them from the Poetry Out Loud website. They were judged based on their stage presence, articulation/tone, interpretation of the poem, evidence of understanding and overall performance. 

“It was a fun challenge figuring out how to display my memorization and tone based on the rubric,” junior Tiffany Tso said. “It was also fun to listen to how other people perceived different poems and how they artistically showcased these interpretations.”


Source by Suha Tasfia

The school-wide Poetry Out Loud competition is held at NHP for the first time.


The program unfolds in four rounds: the school-wide, regional semi-finals, the state level and the national level. For the school-wide competition, students recite their desired poem and get judged for the aforementioned criteria. The top two finalists would then advance to the regional semi-finals and so on. 


Programs like Poetry Out Loud are known for enhancing literacy skills, stimulating creativity and developing skills necessary in the real world. This allows it to play a role in the academic lives of students.


“I feel that the Poetry Out Loud Competition helped me better understand how to perform spoken words in front of an audience while attempting to get a text’s meaning across,” junior Joseph James said.

Source by Suha Tasfia

Students perform to showcase their intepretations of a wide variety of poems.


Beyond the competition itself, exploring poetry has a profound impact on personal endeavors. Teachers and students involved in the competition acknowledge how poetry can foster a connection and a newfound love for language and self-expression.


“I think it’s a powerful thing for us to walk around with little bits of wisdom tucked into our hearts and minds,” English chairperson and competition judge Mr. Otton said. “When I think about this competition, I think about the course of years studying literature and going back to when I was in high school memorizing poems for various reasons. When you’re faced with a situation, it’s nice to call upon wisdom from insightful and creative people.” 


“Writing poetry allows me to communicate my thoughts, feelings, memories and dreams in a more expressive manner,” sophomore Ariana Muhammad said. “I try to draw connections between the poem and my individual self.”

One of the winners of the school wide competition remarked about how their poem was personal to their life.

“Poetry is something that is meaningful and although I don't often read poems, the one I used connected to me as it has things relevant to my life because I do view myself as a ‘people person’ and see aspects of obsessing which in a funny way might have related to me,” freshman Amy Jigon said.

Source from Mr. Otton

Sophomore Fatima Naysa passionately recites her chosen poem for the Poetry Out Loud contest.

Through exploring the creative words of poets, students can foster an intimate connection with the poet’s message and even apply it to their own lives. This allows many students to find themselves through these works of art, making the competition appealing to many.


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