Poetry Out Loud 2017

Gracie Poehlman

Gracie Poehlman, Writer, Photographer, Videographer

On Tuesday night, October 3, the sun was setting behind the gym as students filed into the library, proud parents close behind. They were clutching pieces of paper and wringing their hands in anticipation. After a quick round of microphone checks, Sheila Hadden took the stage to introduce the event.

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry competition for a trip to Washington, DC and a $20,000 scholarship.

Mrs. Hadden explained, “We have two sections of Potery Out Loud; we have recitation, where the students have to go to the website and they choose a poem from that website and memorize it and they recite that poem. We also have an original section where the students write their own poems.”

Students participating this year were AJ Revera (Actaeon), Amber Lover (Caged Bird), Ayra Alam (‘Time does not bring relief; you all have lied’), Corey Tolbert (The War in the Air), Daniel Swinney (The Obligation to Be Happy), Georgie Karahalis (Lazy), Grace Hannah (Corn Maze), Jenna Hwang (every single day), Jessica Sloan (Sweetness), Marielle Baumgartner (The Day), Shantanu Kadam (The Lake Isle of Innisfree) and Sija Headrick (Violins) in the recitation category.

Jada Brown, Sija Headrick, Moira McCann, Iman Gadalla, and Aditi Limaye competed in the original category.

The judges for the night were Dr. Kimberly Jack and Bethany Campbell of Athens State University, Martha Boggs, a former Bob Jones English teacher, and Brad Hadden. The prompter was Charlotte Martin, the accuracy judge was Jon Campbell, and the scorekeeper was Nichole Murray.

After a brief intermission, the students advancing to the second round of the recitation competition were announced. Despite strong performances from Corey Tolbert (Undivided Attention), Daniel Swinney (And If I Did, What Then?), Jenna Hwang (For My Daughter), Shantanu Kadam (A Short Story of Falling), and Sija Headrick (Barter); Jessica Sloan, last year’s runner-up, won for her recitation of “I Am Learning to Abandon This World.”

In the original category, Sija Headrick won with her poem “Moon and Stars,” with Jada Brown as runner-up for her poem “No More Pain.”

“It’s awesome, [placing in two categories]” Sija Headrick said, “and grand.”

“To be honest, I don’t think I did that well,” said Iman Gadalla, last year’s winner, “but [original poetry] was a new experience. And I wanted to try it for a new experience. It was, like, ‘well, I already did this, so I want to try something new.’ It’s exciting.”

“The first place winner in recitation and the first place winner in original will each receive $100. The first runners-up receive $50 apiece,” Mrs. Hadden said. “Once we have winners from the schoolwide competition, the winner in recitation moves on to regionals, held every November at UAH. […] Normally, we have two original poets–our first place winner and our runner-up–go on to regional.”

The regional competition will be held in November.