Poetry Out Loud

Ella Prince, Staff Writer

Literature comes in many forms. Forms that have influenced people of all kinds. Poetry is a genre that encourages creativity and inspiration. It’s simple and complex all in one. The Springfield Arts Council helps to provide students with a chance to participate in a competition called Poetry Out Loud, which was founded in 2006. Facial expressions, appropriate movements, a deep understanding of the poem, and tone are all evaluated by the judges, in addition to other criteria. The regional competition for our area takes place in Springfield and is the first in the state series. 

Bethany Bergschneider, one of two contestants from Franklin, shared her experiences with poetry and why she decided to join the club a year ago. “I read a lot as a kid, so I read some poetry but not much, which made joining the club more fun for us to try because we didn’t know much about it. We really focus on picking the poems we like and interpreting them when practicing for the competitions, learning what they mean, facial expressions, and hand movements all come into play when reciting the poems we choose.” Bergschneider explained that she thinks analyzing poetry has been helpful for understanding literature better. “Poetry is very subjective. You have to really dig below the surface level to analyze what’s happening in it,” Bergschneider noted.

“The competitions themselves are not elaborate. You step on the stage and begin your poem. Facial expressions, understanding of meaning, and voice are scored as you begin your poem. It all ties into how the judges are scoring you,” Bergschneider stated.  “I personally don’t like to read rhyming poems. They’re harder to interpret and you almost sound like you get a ‘sing-songy’ voice, which is more likely for judges to deduct points for not having a stronger platform for your poem.” Bergschneider also acknowledged that she feels that she and her teammate, Madden Delaney, feel more confident with poetry and have grown dramatically since last year when they first joined the club.

Ms. Scannell, Franklin’s Poetry Out Loud coach, discussed how joining the club can make a significant financial difference in students’ lives if they are successful at the regional, state, and national levels. “If you do well at regionals (first and second places), you’ll move onto state, which is all of the schools combined in your state and you compete there. After that, if you were to do well, all of the states who are involved go to nationals, which is held in Washington, D.C.” Scannell explained that there are certain prizes the students can receive if they do well at regional, state, and national competitions. These prizes include a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be given at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the National Champion, $10,000 for 2nd place, $5,000 for 3rd place, and $1,000 for 4th-12th places. Winners of state will receive $200 and will get an all-paid trip with a chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in nationals. 

Students eligible to compete include anyone from grades 9-12. The two highest-rated students at the school competition advance to the regional competition, and, with hard work, have the chance to advance to state and national levels.