The Unity of Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud (POL), a national recitation competition, is being held virtually this year as a video submission-based competition to ensure the safety of all participants. Every year, this event excels in uniting highschool students, allowing them a platform to express themselves through art and poetry. Elements ranging from theatre to speech are allowed in the competition, giving participants freedom to choose and to further voice individual personal creativity. 

“Starting from the classroom, this program allows winners to advance to a regional and/or state competition, and then ultimately to the national finals where a possible $20,000 could be won,” stated the National English Honor Society (NEHS) POL planning committee. However, the prize isn’t the sole purpose of participating in POL. “This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.” 

Varying in length, emotion, background and subject matter, a perfect poem that truly speaks to an individual can be found for everyone. Poems can be chosen based on the collection they are placed in, and while these aren’t the only ones available, the collections vary from topics including “War Poetry,” to “Humor & Satire.” Poems can also be filtered and chosen based on the poet, the length, the date of publication, or even by the poetic form. The diversity in poems allows for everyone to express themselves as they truly wish to. 

“It makes it a lot easier to perform when the judges can see you have a genuine connection with your poem,” recognized Christly Bright, a Centennial student participating in POL. “I’m looking forward to performing and seeing where all this could go. It’s a new experience for me, so I’m very excited about everything.” 

Each person can have a different perception of a single poem, and some poems even have as many interpretations as there are people who read them. While this might argue against the inclusivity of POL, it still can promote individuality, which is vital in having a cohesive community. “It’s given me a chance to see different interpretations and meanings behind words,” stated Khadijah Ceesay, the 2019 POL Champ, on the Poetry Out Loud site.

While this year’s event is different in terms of structure, it remains the same in purpose; uniting students in an effort to give them an experience where they can grow and become better versions of themselves. 

Poetry Out Loud events at Centennial revolve around certain themes. Some of the past themes include ‘All Around the World’, but this year’s theme is Decades (1920s to Present). According to the NEHS POL planning committee, all students are invited, and those who would like to participate can contact the NEHS for more information.


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