Junior wins school-wide Poetry Out Loud competition


Photo courtesy of: Joseph_A._Harrell,_II

Contestants and winners of the school-wide competition gather in a virtual meeting.

Allyson Yededji, Staff Writer

  In November 2020, Deep Run High School hosted a virtual Poetry Out Loud competition. English teacher Melissa Daniels and librarians Joe Harrell and Hattie Smart co-sponsored the event where ten students competed by performing poems for the school-wide championship. Junior Caroline Pence won the school-wide competition and advanced to the Regional competition in February 2021.

   Poetry Out Loud is a national program where high school students compete in a poetry-reciting competition in schools across the country. The goal of the program is to  help students build skills, learn more about history, and understand different viewpoints across the world. The school-wide winner, Pence shared her experience in the program.

   Being unfamiliar with poetry as performance, Pence wanted to try something new. 

   “Even though it seems scary, performing actually wasn’t too bad and I really enjoyed it, “Pence said. 

   She was proud of herself knowing how well she had performed. Pence’s love for acting made her want to compete more, despite being unaccustomed to poetry. Reciting poetry is like acting, so she knew she would enjoy it but still had a few fears

   “I was also worried about forgetting the words or reciting the poem incorrectly,” Pence said.  

   The scoring is strict, as it not only evaluates the reciting, but also evaluates the performer’s stage, presence, articulation, expression, and understanding of the poem. 

   “I prepared and worked very hard to memorize the poems word for word,” Pence said.

   Standing out on stage is important, as well as understanding that there are many ways to recite the poems. 

   “I think that I pictured myself as the writer and sort of ‘became’ them to create a more colorful recitation, whereas others may have viewed it as just reciting a poem.” Pence said.

    Becoming the poet gave Pence a much more engaging performance that helped her in the competition.

   The final round of the school-wide competition also included Paige Schaffranek, Ethan Patel, Aarzu Choudhary, Annie Koshy, Thomas Carter, Archer White, Hridya Mainra, Adam Viener, and school-wide runner up Campbell Clanton.

   Pence has some advice for anyone thinking about Poetry Out Loud. 

   “It is a lot of fun and there’s no harm in trying. Just work really hard and think outside of the box,” Pence said.