Poetry Out Loud

The Literary Arts Primes Raises its Voice

Poetry Out Loud

Annabel Vetock, Journalist

Having a reputation as one of the quietest primes, the literary arts department shocked most of the second floor when its sophomore class spent three minutes standing on top of furniture and screaming at the top of their lungs. This is one of the many preparations being made by the lit department for the Poetry Out Loud competition, one of the prime’s many beloved traditions.

Poetry Out Loud is a national organization intended to bring the art of poetry back into high school classrooms. In an educational system where we prioritize logistical, STEM-based approaches in each subject, we often lose sight of the value of creativity. Poetry Out Loud allows students to see poetry as a joyous art, rather than something “soul suckingly dry”, as put by Tiara Aragon, ’23. When students are force fed poems, taught in the same way as mathematical equations or chemical conversions, the passion and artistry woven into the piece gets lost along the way.

Poetry Out Loud also gives student writers a rare opportunity to emerge from their typically solitary art form. “Anytime as a writer you have a chance to stand in front of a group and say words is a good one,” says literary arts teacher, Dr. Prentiss. It gives writers a chance to practice oration, allowing them to connect with poetry in a way that isn’t just internal. Poetry Out Loud gives writers a chance to explore volume, tone, and movement in addition to understanding the poetry. 

Beginning at a school level, Poetry Out Loud invites students to memorize and perform poems. Students must present two poems, one with 25 lines and another written before the 20th century, all chosen from the organization’s massive database. These poems are then memorized and recited in front of judges, a Carver Alumni and local poet. These judges determine one winner and a runner-up. The winner progresses to the state category, competing against winners from other Maryland schools.

The winner from the state level will then compete on the national level, held during the spring in Washington DC. 

Much like joining a club or honor society, Poetry Out Loud is a great extracurricular activity to gain the skills looked at by colleges and employers. Events like this help students to build confidence in public speaking, something that a majority of people aren’t comfortable with. 

Poetry Out Loud has not happened at Carver since before the COVID shut-down of 2020. One of the few students to remember the 2019 competition is Camilla Chakir, a literary arts senior. “POL taught me how to be more comfortable presenting myself to an audience, which has been useful since presenting work is inevitable,” she says about the competition. The competition introduced her to poetry she would not have found otherwise. 

Tiara Aragon, another literary senior, recalls that “My favorite part was seeing the others perform”. She loved seeing “how others articulate a poem, and experience their different ways of vocally communicating their own interpretations”.

Both Camilla and Tiara will participate in this year’s competition, along with other underclassmen. The competition will occur on January 10th, and is open to anyone, in any grade, from any prime. Anyone can participate, or simply join the audience in supporting these young poets.

Visit the Poetry Out Loud website to learn more: https://www.poetryoutloud.org/