The Chieftain

The Chieftain

School Representative Chosen for Poetry Out Loud Competition

Norelle Howard, Reporter

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The adrenaline of watching opposing competitors recite their poems in front of the judges, challenged contestant Asiya Kamara to give it her all in the Poetry Out Loud competition.

“The purpose of Poetry Out Loud is to get as many people as possible to be exposed to the idea of poetry…” English teacher, Christopher Hamas states.

Students who partake in the casual event, research a poem of their choosing to restate in front of the judge.

“Every school that participates will send one school winner, then select two competition winners to send to state championship […] the state championship will represent their state in the national championship,” Hamas said.

The scenario of the Poetry Out Loud competition is similar to every other typical competitive event.

“Previous competitions have varied from year to year depending on student and staff interest. In the past, we have had large school competitions, with at least ten school finalists performing two poems for a panel of judges.  I would like to bring that back next yea, if there is enough interest in the program,” Hamas stated.

This wouldn’t be the first time PHS is partaking in Regionals, Nationals or State competition.

“Piscataway’s Ijeoma Egekezie won the NJ state finals about 7 years ago, and competed in the national finals in Washington D.C.”  Hamas added.

The qualifications in order to win the competition may be the most challenging obstacle each contestant must face, for it all relies on mere memory.

“You have to memorize three different poems […] but I feel like that’s going to be competitive because there’s a lot of winners and they also have great talent,” said Sophomore Angelika Ladia.

As one individual recited their poems to judges, other contestants would take mental notes and pointers from each act.

“I really enjoyed watching them recite…but it also made me very nervous for my turn, especially seeing all the talent that they had,” Kamara claimed.

Reciters are students ranging from Freshmen to Seniors but a majority of them came from the 9th grade. Many were nervous for their turn and developed coping mechanisms when facing the judges.

“I cope by just making sure that I gave it my all because I didn’t want to give up before I try. I kept moving my head so it looked like I was more so feeling my poem but in reality, I just didn’t want to make eye contact with the judges so that I did not become nervous,” Kamara commented.

Each individual contestant has a chance to express their emotions in a show-not-tell format to the judges using appropriate gestures that flow with their poems. This boosts their chances of winning because judges are looking for expressions, and body language to elaborate the poem.

“Even though I’m nervous, the rush of the moment, the freedom of speech, to have no bars or grammatical laws, to express what I believe in, relaxes me when I begin to give my speech,” Sophomore, Zoha Khan states.

Although contestants are just freshman and sophomore, some have professional experience in reciting poetry.

“I used to be really into writing narratives from like sixth to eighth grade. I had planned to become my own author. For our international show, I decided to perform poetry, which is when I really got into it. Mr. Coleman saw me and told me to perform at Piscataway Reads, so then I did. It was there when I fell in love with the art of poetry, and it’s been my passion pretty much ever since,” Freshman Zoha Khan stated.

Fortunately, every contestant was able to recite their poems smoothly and was ready to accept the their fate as winner or defeated.

“I am here to do what I love and would be fine if someone else won this competition because  I know, they too have a passion for poetry,” Khan announces.

As the judges took note, the competition would come to a close, deeming Asiya Kamara as the winner.

“When I won, I was very, very excited and happy especially since there was much talent in the other contestants and for them to choose me, made me overjoyed,” Said Kamara.

The Poetry Out Loud contest consisted not only the recitation of poems, but the sharing and feelings of others while teaching good sportsmanship to young poets.

“Once word got out that I won the competition, everyone who competed congratulated me for my job well done,” Champion Asiya Kamara stated.

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School Representative Chosen for Poetry Out Loud Competition