Poetry Out Loud judges and NewGate faculty with Dylan Caruso (Center Left) and Ben Bogard (Center Right). Photo credit: Evan Sigmund
by Lisl Liang
Today, the downtown offices of SRQ magazine were filled with poetry and applause. Students from NewGate participated in Poetry Out Loud, a nation-wide poetry recitation competition supported by The National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. NewGate students in grades 9-12 participated in this year's program.
The goal is to teach students about poetry by fostering a relationship with poems. Amy Kremer, English Teacher at NewGate shared the classroom preparation that takes place prior to the competition. "Each student selects two poems from thousands on their website. We love that the students make 100% of the choice in their selection. Rather than going through each one, we encourage the students to really understand the meanings of the poems when making their choice. This is a great program because the students begin to encourage each other. That's a cool thing to see with teenagers."
When asking a few students why they chose their selection, they each responded with great though. "I chose 'The End of Science Fiction' by Lisel Mueller because I disagree with it. I love sci-fi and reciting it created a mental controversy for me," said Evelyn Baldwin. Paige Mantone walked us through her preparation for today's competition, "I spent my winter break with my poems. After winter break, I read them every night for half an hour."
The competition was judged by two SRQ Media staff members, Phil Lederer and Shane Donglasan and Ringling College of Art and Design student Anna Babayeva. Phil Lederer elaborated on the judging process, "Judging was both more difficult and more rewarding than I anticipated. And while I was impressed by the student's poise and preparation, perhaps the most memorable aspect was the air of excited cooperation in the room. They were in competition, but still all in it together."
Dylan Caruso won first place in today's competition for his recitation of "Bereavement" by William Lisle Bowles and "Broken Promises" by David Kirby. He will represent NewGate as he advances to Tampa for the state competition on March 28th. There he will be prepared to recite three poems. "It is nerve wracking, but I'm feeling excited. I've been working on this for three years. My first year, I didn't know my second poem. Last year I was the runner-up, but I'm glad that I finally did it." Congratulations to Ben Bogard for being selected as this year's runner-up.
Congratulations to all contestants! You have inspired us to take a few moments to enjoy a poem today.
For more information about NewGate and their initiatives, click here. If you, too, are inspired to read a poem today, check out the Poetry Out Loud website and enjoy a few stanzas.