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The Tide Online » News » DHS Poetry Out Loud competitors persevere 

DHS Poetry Out Loud competitors persevere 

By: Aidan Mattingly

On Friday, Feb. 10, 22 competitors stood on the DHS Auditorium stage for DHS’ Tenth Poetry Out Loud (POL) event. Each participant recited a single poem, competing to enter the final round. Many reciters performed admirably, with the best of these moving on to a second round. Ultimately, the contest was won by Daisy Tuttle of the Class of 2020. Her winning poems, as well as those of her runner-ups, were marked by substantive control of many factors, elements of the recitation that are easy to name and hard to define.

POL competitors face Herculean tasks to prepare such winning poems, including memorization and inflection of the poem to convey its personal significance. Ava Dobson, who tied for runner-up in the competition, described the latter as being important. Her first acts to prepare, she said, are to ask herself how the poem affects her and how it affects others. These preparation processes are a critical component of the POL event.

In some ways, the power to create winning recitations is encapsulated by Poetry Out Loud’s scoring system, where judges are asked to score a poem based on categories including “Voice and Articulation” and “Dramatic Appropriateness.” According to Ms. Samantha Sannella, who co-ran POL this year, this system allows enough flexibility to capture good poems, instead of making the judgement arbitrary.

Both organizers of the event and competitors emphasized the connection a poem creates in its audience as the defining component of a good recitation. Dobson said that this process begins with understanding a poem’s significance, “Just because it’s written by someone completely different than you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean something to you.” She emphasized using this connection to build a connection to the audience. Likewise, Ms. Sannella emphasized a need for the competitor to make their poem emotionally charged to an audience that most likely has never heard of the poem in question. The competitors who can create this personal connection, ultimately, are those who are most successful.

In addition, competitors need to maintain a balanced focus on both of their initial poem and their final round poem. Ms. Sannella stated that “the second poem is always a struggle,” adding that the emphasis given to this second poem often makes or breaks a presentation. Tuttle also emphasized this, being proud of her second poem and feeling that it helped her to stand out from her more experienced competition.

This year’s POL seemed to impress attendees and competitors. Mrs. Jennifer Connelly, who teaches Latin, was particularly impressed by the memorization skills displayed as well as the emotional connection the competitors created. Tuttle, when asked about her feelings on her victory, said she was “really happy” about the overall experience, and felt that it had given her a lot of practice for future presentations. She will be eligible to compete at the State Finals to be held on March 10, and, if victorious, may advance to the National Finals on April 25 and 26.

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