For many of them, it was their first time speaking in an official poetry contest. Despite the novelty of the event, the students performed eloquently as if they had been reciting poetry professionally for years! Daniela Milne, a librarian at Sturgis East who helped orchestrate the event, was impressed by the young poets. “Participants recited their selected poems with such emotion and vigor that I felt mesmerized by their words,”she exclaimed. “It’s no small feat to get up in front of a group of people and recite something by memory. That all these students did so and imbued their poems with emotion was incredible! I was immensely proud of each of them”.
Although each of the performances were spectacular, there could only be one winner. Freshman Maris Poepsel came in first place, followed by fellow freshman Phoebe Cohen as the runner-up.
First place winner Maris Poepsel has had experience in public speaking for seven years now as an actress, but she was quick to point out that “You don’t need professional experience to do Poetry Out Loud. You can be introverted and still do really well.” The key component to success in the competition is commitment. “Don’t wait until the last night to practice your poem. Perfecting your poem is a longer process than that. Also, you need to have a positive attitude. Imagine yourself succeeding rather than messing up. It’ll give you more confidence going in.”
Overall, the 2017 Poetry Out Loud Competition was a tremendous success. Students were truly able to unleash and exhibit the emotion of the poems they chose and found an interest in poetry they may not have found otherwise. Many thanks to all of the teachers and staff who made this event possible. Also, best of luck to Maris Poepsel as she moves on to the Massachusetts Semi-Finals in March at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod!