In order to keep poetry alive in the modern day, “Poetry Out Loud” held their state competition Feb. 10. Before states however, Heritage students competed in a school tournament in Mrs. Hendrick’s room 7100, Jan. 21. “Poetry Out Loud,” sponsored by Dead Poets’ Society (DPS) and English Honors Society (EHS), attempted to hold their first tournament last year. However, the competition only took off after increased interest this year.
“I thought that that was a great opportunity because I’ve gone to open mic nights, and I really enjoy speaking about poems. It was really fun because I was able to encourage other people to come and then show my love of poetry to my friends who didn’t know that side of me and then going on stage to speak about something you care about is really powerful. Even though through Poetry Out Loud, it isn’t a poem that you write, you can still find poems that you connect to which is really nice. You always get chills when you read a nice poem,” said POL second place local competitor, EHS co-president and junior Flora Ranis.
“When I was younger, I wasn’t really an outspoken person but as I got older I was able to find that literature and words are a really beautiful way to express myself and something new to try,” Ranis said. “Poetry, even though a lot of times it is abstract, it is a really beautiful way that connects people every single time.”
Besides keeping poetry alive in this competition, EHS and DPS also keep poetry alive through Open Mic Nights and activism. “I always felt I was more affected by poetry. However, currently I feel that young people, people our age, are using poetry as a way for activism. I’ve seen a lot of spoken word poetry and slam poetry for gun control, sexual harassment and things that are prevalent in today’s climate,” POL competitor and junior Annabella Lugo said. “I think the people who do write are very passionate about it. We just need to get more people involved in it. I think the best way to get them out is to share it with people, whether it be with a teacher or a class or a friend.”
After competition, first-place local POL winner, EHS co-president and senior Gabriela Coutinho reflected on her poetry career. “I was moved to compete because I feel it gives people a voice. As an artist, I like being able to have control over what I put out there and although Poetry Out Loud is not your own original poetry, you are speaking through the words of someone else. I think it’s really important to celebrate poetry,” Coutinho said. Now, Coutinho continues to work on “Backdrop Addresses Cowboy,” the poem she memorized, for states.
For more poetry, students can visit the Poetry Booth at the Renaissance Festival on Feb. 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Environmental Education Center. Tickets are sold by EHS and DPS members for $10.