Senior moves on in Poetry Out Loud for third year

photo by Sully Minnick

Continuing her three-year streak, senior Brooke Halinar placed first in the school-wide Poetry Out Loud finals, putting her on track for regionals and possibly states or nationals

Poetry Out Loud finals were held 3 p.m. Tuesday, featuring eight contestants who moved on from the school-wide competition. Last year, she won first in the state and moved on to the national level of the competition, receiving an honorable mention.

“It’s still very nerve-wracking, even after three years, to get up in front of people,” said Halinar. “There are still so many fantastic performers here that it’s still worrisome, but it’s energizing, and I love the feeling.”

She recited “Monet Refuses the Operation” by Lisel Mueller and “A Locked House” by W.D. Snodgrass. She also recited “Monet Refuses the Operation” last year and is considering performing it at regionals.

“Its outlook on the world is kind of how I want to see it,” said Halinar. “It’s not how I see it all the time, but I do get glimpses of that perspective.

“I think it’s a wonderful way to look at the world, so I take inspiration from the poem itself while being able to relate to it.”

This year, she hopes to make it to nationals and place in the top three to top off her Poetry Out Loud experience. Through the competition, she has traveled to D.C. and met a multitude of other contestants, as well as members of Congress.

“[Poetry Out Loud] has been absolutely amazing,” said Halinar. “I have met people from all over the country and it’s really eye-opening, even with the people in the school, you see a side of people that they usually don’t show and I think that’s really beautiful.”

The first runner up was sophomore Elizabeth Pederson and the second runner up was junior Hope Fischer. Both plan to participate in Poetry Out Loud again next year.

“I was really surprised [to place second], I was not expecting that with my second poem since it was really short,” said Pederson. “I wasn’t very confident once I heard that everybody else had a longer poem, but I was really excited once I heard.”

For the finals, contestants needed to memorize two poems of their choice and recite them for three judges. They were judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance and accuracy, the last two weighted most heavily.

“I love Poetry Out Loud, you get to read through all the poems and really find one that you can connect with,” said Fischer. “It helps you learn of yourself as a person and be able to find out who you are and how other people have put things into words.”

This year, the Poetry Out Loud finals were held in the newly-renovated library. The location of the event varies and has occurred in the LGI and, last year, the auditorium.

“The library is a very nice space, they’ve done a nice job renovating it and it’s welcoming,” said Poetry Out Loud organizer Chris Schwalm. “It should be a nice environment, we’ll enjoy the library.”

This was the 13th year students could participate in Poetry Out Loud. Most were involved in some level of it, whether within a class, in semifinals or in the finals.

“It helps them to get themselves out of their comfort zone and that’s the only way you grow is to do something that may be a little intimidating, may be a little frightening,” said Schwalm. “We know that most people are afraid of public speaking and then you have to memorize something on top of that.

“It’s excellent exercise for your brain to strengthen your mental capacity, it is excellent for you to practice your nonverbal language when you’re trying to convey something important, and the list goes on.”

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