Poetry Out Loud Competition January 23rd

Fahad Aloufi, Staff Writer

Bloomington High School South is organizing its own 7th annual Poetry Out Loud competition. It is going to be held in the large group room on January 23rd, after school. It will be from 3:15 to 4:30. This is a great opportunity for those interested in poetry and public speaking.

What is the competition? 

Students are required to perform two poems, which they must memorize beforehand. The poems have to be chosen from the Poetry Out Loud website at poetryoutloud.org. Those interested in performing their own original poetry can do so after the competition has concluded. This competition follows a pyramid structure where the winner from South moves one to compete at state. Thereafter, the winner from each state goes on to participate in the national competition, with the chance of winning $20,000 for a first place finish.

All participants must sign up and provide the poems they are planning to recite by sending an email to [email protected] Those submissions have to be done by Friday, January 17th. On the other hand, those interested in reading their own, original poems must sign up by January 22nd.


How are participants judged?

There are six categories involved. For each category, a judge assigns a score, and all the scores are added to get a final score.

These are the six categories:

Physical presence – your body language and confidence on stage

Voice and Articulation – proper pronunciation, pace, and rhythm are evaluated here.

Dramatic appropriateness – are your gestures insync with the meaning of the poem?

Evidence of understanding – is it apparent that you have a comprehension of the poem?

Overall performance – this evaluates your entire performance as a whole, thinking about how the categories mentioned above interact and create an enjoyable performance for listeners.

Accuracy score – this measures how many mistakes you made while reciting your poem from memory.

South’s success over the years 

Bloomington South has been the proud home of many students who have been quite successful with Poetry Out Loud. Shelby Newland, a former student, went on to win the state competition in 2016 and later became a national finalist. However, in recent years, junior Lucia Walker has found great success as well, winning the past two school competitions and placing top 10 at state in each of those two years.

We asked her a few questions about her experience and here are her responses.

Q: When choosing poems to recite, what elements are you looking for?

A: When choosing a poem, I am looking for stories I can relate to. It’s much easier to take on a poem when it is something I can understand emotionally.

Q: How was your experience with poetry out loud?

A: It was an honor to represent South as a state finalist. I have learned a lot about poetry as an art form through my own work with recitation and through listening to other students competing. I loved meeting my fellow students and hearing their stories as well.

Q: Can you describe your process when preparing for the competition?

A: The first step in preparing for the competition was to choose my poems.  There is a large online database which includes all of the poems approved by Poetry Out Loud for use in the competition.  Then I printed out my poems and researched each of them so that I would have a deeper understanding that I could apply to my recitations.  The next step involves a lot of repetition in order to memorize each poem and prepare its delivery.  I often like to write each poem down and highlight important phrases, as it helps me to recall them later.

 How you can practice? 

The poetry out loud website offers many great tips and videos that can help guide you while you prepare for this competition. Additionally, Ms. McDermott is offering Poetry Panther Plus sessions every Thursday in room A212.


Good luck to all the participants!