School Representative Chosen for Poetry Out Loud Competition

School Representative Chosen for Poetry Out Loud Competition

Norelle Howard, Reporter

The adrenaline of watching competitors, the artistry of poetry, and the chance to win at a public audition, are all advantageous features of the latest Poetry Out Loud Competition. It’s an event that stretches all the way to nationals and championships out of state and involves students all over the nation who wish to participate.

“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.

The scenario of the Poetry Out Loud competition is similar to every other typical competitive event. Students who partake in the casual event, research a poem of their choosing to restate in front of the judge and whoever wins the local competition done at their school will be sent along with two competition winners to move on the state championships. The state championship will then represent their state in the national championship

“Previous competitions have varied from year to year depending on student and staff interest.” Hamas states. “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 year, 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, for Piscataway’s Ijeoma Egekezie won the NJ state finals about 7 years ago, and competed in the national finals in Washington D.C. Despite Piscataway’s wins in the past, 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. 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 really enjoyed watching them recite…but it also made me very nervous for my turn, especially seeing all the talent that they had. 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.

Another student Sophomore, Zoha Khan states that the freedom in the moment is nerve-wracking but also exhilarating.

“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.

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

Freshman Zoha Khan is one of the many students who used their experience in writing to their advantage in the poetry competition. “I used to be really into writing narratives from like sixth to eighth grade.” Zoha Khan states. “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.”

Fortunately, every contestant was able to recite their poems smoothly and was ready to accept their fate as winner or defeated. In the end however, as the competition would come to a close, Asiya Kamara was deemed 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. It manages to succeed in those aspects and many more and gave everyone involved a great experience in the development of their writing.

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