Poetry Out Loud Gives Voice to the Students


The competition gives students more than just knowledge of poetry, but a voice


“It was such an experience. I normally hate public speaking, but I remember after I sat back down from reciting my poem, my whole body was shaking from the excitement,” junior Cora Muschinsky said in response to her experience after the Poetry Out Loud competition. She ended up second runner up in the competition overall.

As for the first place winner, junior Katrina Shevchenko, she will go on to represent ELHS at the state level of competition.

“Poetry is an art form. There are competitions in every art form so it only makes sense that we have one for poetry. It puts emotion that can’t speak for themselves into words,” Shevchenko said. Unfortunately, poetry has a reputation of being old and hard to read, when in reality, it can sometimes be the most modern forms of literature allowing it to capture feelings many students can relate to.

“I immediately connected with the poem. Something about it felt so empowering to read. It made me feel heard. It really captured the feeling completely and made me feel incredible to have such power in my voice,” junior Ruby McMahon, first runner up in ELHS’s Poetry Out Loud competition, said. But not just the poem was empowering, the competition itself was as well.

“It was a space where everyone around me was allowed to speak about what their poem is talking about. It was such an honest space. It was so beautiful to be in the presence of people who really genuinely cared,” McMahon said. The competition gave students a platform to be heard.

For AP Literature teacher Kimberly Buckley, teaching poetry to her students gives them an opportunity to relate and find comfort from the poet’s words.

“There is a value of having a text, a poem, that you can connect with, that has deep personal meaning to you and being able to draw on that in a time of need. There is a comfort in that,” Ms. Buckley said. Poetry is such a powerful art form that is not only universal but historic.

Poetry Out Loud presents an opportunity for students to express themselves. It’s a nationwide competition dedicated to encouraging students to develop the art of poetry performance. During the school-wide competition, students choose from a wide selection of poems varying in lengths and topics. They get to know their poem well and perform it for judges. The top 25 applicants are invited back to determine the finalist.

“I think this competition is crucial in showing students connections. To take words and have the time to ponder individual words’ meaning, and how they work together,’’ English teacher Emily Archer said. Poetry is a timeless example of literature but can be the most modern and edgy.

For those who dislike poetry, give it a chance. There are love poems, rhyming poems, emotional poems that speak volumes on the very basis of human behavior.

“Poetry is a language of social justice. Most people don’t write poetry because they are happy or satisfied. People write poetry because they are having some powerful emotions,” librarian Jeannine Barber said. Poetry is something that shouldn’t be judged until it is experienced.

“Poetry isn’t about the most beautiful words, it’s the right words being put in the right order and its language at its most distilled. That’s what poetry is. Literature and writing comes alive not from the person writing it but from the person reading it,” Ms. Buckley said.