Winners of school-wide Poetry Out Loud are announced


Gemma Rossi

Garrick Rodman (’19) recites one of his poems for the school-wide competition. He performed in front of fellow competitors, judges and students that came to watch the contest.

Halli Powers, Reporter

As you walk through the halls, you could hear students reciting poetry. To outsiders it may seem strange, but to fellow students and faculty, it’s that time of year again; Poetry Out Loud had made its way back to select English classes.

According to the official website, Poetry Out Loud was created to “[encourage] students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.” The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

“This is our ninth year [of hosting Poetry Out Loud],” said English teacher Lisa Sopher, who coordinates the event. “We have very uniform expectations of the poems that students choose and the scoring tools that we use.”

Competitions at the classroom level began in mid-November, with the school-wide competition taking place on Thursday, Dec. 6. Students from all grade levels were represented, with Garrick Rodman (‘19) taking first place and Sarah Flynn (‘19) winning runner-up, both advancing to the regional competition.

“They both had really strong deliveries,” said English teacher Laura Blama, who has been a judge for Poetry Out Loud for over five years. “They felt passion for their poem and demonstrated a good understanding of the poem instead of just going up there and reciting it the way it was written on the paper.”

The competition was split into two rounds, with each contestant reciting one poem per round. Rodman began with “In the Basement of the Goodwill Store” by Ted Kooser, then recited “The Cross of Snow” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Flynn recited “Their Bodies” by David Wagoner in the first round, then followed with “Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning” by Emily Brontë.

“I sort of found out by chance that I would be performing [at the school-wide competition],” said Rodman, who is no stranger to the competition. “I did [Poetry Out Loud] last year. I had the option to [advance] but I decided not to.”

Flynn is also familiar with the competition, repeating her results from last year.

“Freshman year, I didn’t understand what Poetry Out Loud was, so I memorized my poem the enrichment period before the class I had it,” said Flynn. “Last year, I advanced to the school-wide [competition], and I was the runner-up last year too.”

Students were given the opportunity to practice their poems during classes and on their own time in preparation for the contest.

“I’m in English and Theater class, so we did Poetry Out Loud in both of the classes,” said Flynn. “It took a lot of preparation. We [prepared] in both [classes].”

“I had plenty of time to memorize the first one,” said Rodman. “When it came to the second one… I was like, ‘well I’ve got to do this now,’ so that’s why I decided that would be my shorter poem of the three that I had to choose.”

Sopher is the coordinator for the school’s Poetry Out Loud competition, and she put together the school-wide contest, helping students get ready, preparing the judges for their work during the competition, and introducing the students prior to their performance.

“I really like organizing the school competition and seeing the work that teachers and students have done to create the high-quality performances that we enjoy in the auditorium every fall,” said Sopher.

The judges for the contest were English teachers Robert Rose and Laura Blama, with Tracy Hanley as the accuracy judge. Students are judged on accuracy, style, and theatrical elements.

“[Style] includes delivery, presence, and overall performance,” said Blama.

The regional competition will take place at the Carroll County Arts Center on Feb. 2. The state competition will be at the Baltimore Museum of Art on March 2; the national competition will take place at the Lisner Auditorium on April 30 and May 1.