Poetry Out Loud Inspires

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Poetry Out Loud Inspires

Nathan Severance

Nathan Severance

Nathan Severance

Nathan Severance

Zach Holland, writer ; Photographer

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Poetry Out Loud inspires learning about history; it promotes creativity, and students are moved to write their own poems and share with others after participating.

Poetry Out Loud is a contest where the contestants recite not only one, but two poems. The first poem is a shorter poem based around a theme, it must be no more than 25 lines. The second poem is longer and must be more than 25 lines.

The contest structure initially consists of classroom and school wide contests, where you get to face others. However, when moving on to the next round,you are taken out of your comfort zone of school. In regionals, you get to compete against people from your county, which is cool. But the next round is state, where cash prizes are given out. The winner receives $200 and a trip to the National Finals. Then, it is the final round, located in Washington DC.

The winner at Nationals also gets $20,000 in cash.

There is a rhyme and a reason to winning.

The panel judges based on physical presence, articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding in a total of 1 out of 6. The overall performance is graded 1 to 9. However, in order to do this right, reading the poem exactly without repetition is imperative.

School winner Nathan Severance explains the process: “I mainly experimented with my delivery. However, I also read through the poem several times, so I could interpret it. I focused on it for 30 minutes at a time to get it right.”

Severance’s longer poem “Her Head” is written by John Murray. It is an expression of a mother’s love. However hard it is to provide for a family’s needs, the mother will do it anyway. The poem’s symbolism includes water, the scorching sun, and the dust.

“After the War” by Rachel Galvin, was Severance’s shorter poem.

The other contestants noticed Severance performance. Classmate Angel Magallon was impressed. “He preached his poem. He preached it, and I could see Martin Luther King Jr. inside of him saying ‘I Have a Dream,’” said Magallon.

“[Nathan] is very articulate and charismatic,” said Meia Schram.

Many state champions have called Poetry Out Loud a self esteem builder, a helper in making poetry more interesting, and a comfort zone breaker.

“Poetry Out Loud puts both old and new words onto the minds hearts and souls of young people. It breaches the chasm between youth and literature,” stated 2016 Minnesota state champion, Abigail Etterson.

Severance was defeated by a competitor from San Luis Obispo High School at the county contest last month. The state competition will be held in Sacramento on March 18 and 19.

Learn more at poetryoutloud.org