Poetry Out Loud: A Contest


Olivia Lekas, Contributor

When most people think of poetry, they think of almost falling asleep in boring English classes. However, poetry is much more than that– it’s about words with purpose, about expressing yourself in subtle ways that can be more comfortable, it’s about relating to others. It’s about standing in front of people and reciting a poem with emotion. The Poetry Out Loud contest brings all of these things together.

Bob Jones teacher Nichole Murray, who is hosting this contest, puts reasons to participate nicely, “It is a great way to practice public speaking, learn to analyze a work deeply, and develop a love for language and the purpose behind the words. I find that students who participate are more confident and score higher on AP exams. They focus on memorizing two poems that are 25 lines or less and develop an understanding for each poem. It helps them analyze works on the exams and write with confidence.”

This contest hones presentation, writing, and reading skills, which will come in useful both in school and after. There’s also prize money! On the class level, The Poetry Out Loud contest consists of three categories: memorize one poem, write and memorize one original poem, and write and memorize one original poem about Social Justice. If you win, you proceed to the school competition.

On the school level, winners will receive $100 and runner-ups will receive $50. For this level, the categories are the same, however, you must memorize two poems or write and memorize two original poems. They then proceed to the regional level.

For the regional level, winners receive $150 and runner-ups $75. However, you have to memorize three poems instead of two. They then move to the state level if they place in the top 5.

At the state level, winners and runner-ups get money and each category winner gets a plaque and a gift. They then get a paid-for trip to Washington D.C. to compete at the national level.

To prepare for the contest, Murray recommends, “Students should find a poem that speaks to them. Practice reading and developing the emotion behind the poem. Practice speaking in front of a mirror and for a friend, parent, or teacher to hear themselves and get out the jitters. It’s always a good idea to visit the Poetry Out Loud website and view previous National winners. You can really develop good techniques watching these top performers.”

If you’re interested, you must sign up for the class level by October 29. You can talk to Ms. Murray in S220. Bob Jones has had students attend the National level before, but they have only placed in the top five.

Be the one to win.

For more information, check out https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-d-IRrkYqARdUcNRLgVU6O1W9zH07PFm_0QmLDwrrhk/edit?usp=sharing