Thirteen Forest Lake High School students took the stage to recite a poem at the Poetry Out Loud recitation contest on Thursday, Jan. 10.
The first step in a national event, the school-level competition is held in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
N. Stephanie Beja and Brandon Hilla will advance to the regional level, with the chance to compete at the state and then national levels.
Students are judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
Each student chooses one of the 10,000 poems listed on the website and memorizes it.
According to English teacher Joseph Mueller, the Forest Lake participants include students from classes in speech, AP English, and CIS advanced public speaking.
The teachers offer extra help, he said, “but most students don’t take us up on it.” After the top two reciters are chosen to compete at the regional level, he said, “then they get help.”
Three performance judges and one accuracy judge were provided by the FLHS English department. Judges were Laura Palke, Stephanie Ward, Tim Peterson, and Becky Haven.
At the school level, each students recites one poem. The regional level requires two poems, and the state and national levels, three.
So far no Forest Lake High School contestant has reached the state or national level. The state competition is held at the Fitzgerald Theater, and public radio host Garrison Keillor has been a judge in the national competition.
The Minnesota winner last year, chosen from 18 state finalists, was Thandisizwe Jackson-Nisan, a senior at MTS Technology High School in Minneapolis. One of the three poems she recited for the state competition was “Booker T and W.E.B,” by Dudley Randall. State winners go home with $200.
Last year’s national winner was from Mississippi. She received a $20,000 award. The second place winner receives $10,000 and the third place winner $5,000.
More than 365,000 students compete nationwide last year.
Poetry Out Loud is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.
FLHS Poetry Contest Entries
Nate Brown, “Self-Inquiry Before the Job Interview” by Gary Soto
Kacie MacKay, “Entirely” by Louis MacNeice
Angelica McIntosh, “Le Maudit” by Richard Aldington
Mikensie Johnson, “The Daring One” by Edwin Markham
N. Stephanie Beja, “Abandoned Farmhouse” by Ted Kooser
Rebecca Neumann, “Snowflake” by William Baer
Jake Bush Abraham, “Lincoln Walks at Midnight” by Vachel Lindsay
Jason Shevik, “The Death of Allegory” by Billy Collins
Aryn Ritchie, “Lazy” by David Yezzi
Kaylee McCollough, “Break, Break, Break” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Jennifer DeGennaro, “Beautiful Wreckage” by W. D. Ehrhart
Marisa Heiling, “These Poems, She Said” by Robert Bringhurst
Brandon Hilla, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas