For the second year in a row, Emily Padgett was Eatonville High School’s entrant at the regional level of the Poetry Out Loud competition. And while she didn’t win, she helped the event accomplish its goal of shining a spotlight on the power and diversity of poetry in a very verbal way.
Students from 70 high schools throughout Washington entered this year’s Poetry Out Loud (POL). Starting with classroom competitions, they advanced through schoolwide contests to the regionals, and the winners there went on to the state competition.
Addi Garner of Anacortes High was this year’s Washington champion, earning a chance to compete for the national title and its prize of a $50,000 scholarship.
POL began in 2005, and Eatonville has been involved in it since 2011. According to Maggie Hoffman, an English teacher at the school, students choose one poem from among 900 that are on the POL website. They study the meaning and tone of their poems before reciting them from memory for their respective English classes.
“They learn how to take a difficult piece of poetry and break it down to where they feel the somewhat hidden meanings from the poet,” Hoffman wrote in an article for the district. “They persevere in their struggle to grasp the tone and attitude of the speaker, and finally it comes -- the chance to perform a creative recitation that depicts wonder and understanding. Most of the kids seem to enjoy it, and many of them get very excited to be a part of the school competition, hoping to make it to the regionals.”
Padgett, who reached this year’s regionals, recited two poems in the competition Feb. 4 at the main branch of the Tacoma Public Library -- “The Salutation,” by Thomas Traherne, and “In Love, His Grammar Grew,” by Stephen Dunn. She was one of 12 contestants from the Puget Sound region. The winner was Lizette Harris of Life Christian Academy.
Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Only one student school-wide can compete in the regional competition. Judging is based on physical presence, voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, dramatic appropriateness, accuracy, and overall performance.