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Poetry Out Loud Competition: Emma Avery Wins, Qualifies for Regionals

Molli Carr, Reporter

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You may not believe me, but there is a great beauty that words can provide. On February 1st, 16 talented students at Lewis Mills high school proved this beauty
through poetry. Emma Avery, won this competition, and is now moving on to the next round. The Poetry Out Loud competition included two rounds of recitation per contestant. There were five judges including, Matthew Krampitz, Tania McNaboe, Nina Fournier, Kristen Carlson, and Brynn Mandel.

Each grade level was represented among the contestants, and each poem was different than the last. “These students recite amazing poetry. They have extraordinary feats of memory. I’m always impressed about what these kids can do,” says Nina Fournier as the introduction to the event. One contestant, Emma Avery told me before the start of the competition, “I am a little nervous, I don’t even want to win, I just want to get it right.” Avery recited Mechanism by A.R Ammons and Buried at Springs by James Schuyler. She did more than just “get it right,” she came in first runner up, and is now going on to the regional finals. The winner is invited to a poetry workshop, and Avery is attending one on February 12th. According to the Poetry Out Loud website, “The School Champion Workshop is a chance for School Champions from across the state to come together for a day of poetry. Students will hone their skills, meet other Poetry Out Loud participants and work directly with professional poets as they prepare for regional and state final competitions.”

The Poetry Out Loud competition has been going on for 5 years, and is sponsored by CT Humanities. The contestants are judged based on physical presence, voice articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, and their overall performance. “I would suggest those interested in participating that you look at the website, poems that speak to you, and to familiarize yourself with the poet’s biography. Get as much historical framework and context as possible,” says Fournier.

Rachel Pollak, the Grants and Programs Coordinator of Connecticut Humanities keeps all contestants and judges up to date whether it be the competitions, workshops, newsletters, or additional contests. Students, teachers, and local community members are encouraged to attend the Poetry Out Loud competitions to support the contestants, and to hear amazing poetry. “What a wonderful way to interpret poetry and sensitize yourself to language nuances from page to stage,” says Fournier.

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