Standing and speaking before a live audience is one of the most common fears, but Arundel High students took the challenge head on recently with a poetry competition involving English classes at the school.
Nearly two dozen students (mostly 11th-graders)took part in the "Poetry Out Loud" competition, each reciting two poems by memory in front of classmates and judges. The students took part in the school-wide competition after being selected as among the best in their individual English classes.
Maddie Swanson emerged as the winner after reciting Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox and The Idler by Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson. English teacher Ann Kelly said Swanson earned high marks for accuracy and the complexity of the poems. Swanson will now compete in the county competition.
The second-place winner was David Buckingham, who recited A Hundred Bolts of Satin and Work Without Hope using American Sign Language. Lexy Williams and Julia Zheng finished in a tie for third place.
"I often get the question, 'why are we doing this?'," Kelly said. "I tell them that getting up and speaking in front of your peers or anybody is such a life skill. And I think turning this into performance poetry really brings life to the poems."
Junior Christian Hodges, who recited the poems The Arrow and the Song and Sugar Dada said he always enjoyed writing and reading poetry, but hadn't spent much time reciting it.
"This is a great opportunity to take a poem that has a lot of meaning behind it and try to uncover that meaning," Hodges said.
Poetry Out Loud is a national competition supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. For more information and to see videos of past winning performances, go to poetryoutloud.org.