April is National Poetry Month. For a shot of the beauty, insight, and grace that poetry can lend your life, it’s a perfect time to hear some recited by some of the country’s best.
The national finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition will be livestreamed from Washington DC this week. The recitals start Tuesday in Washington, DC, with the preliminaries all day on Tuesday (4/24) and the final round on Wednesday night (4/25).
If years past are a forerunner, I expect the diversity of poems and students will likely be remarkable. To hear an inner-city kid present Wordsworth or Burns and a rural one take on Adrienne Rich — incredibly heart-warming. These students show that the art of memorizing and interpreting poetry is definitely alive!
For a look at some poetry talent closer to home, Mason Moore, the Teton High School Poetry Out Loud champ, recited “Undivided Attention” by Taylor Mali at April’s board meeting of Teton School District 401. On this video, he starts talking about the POL program about three and a half minutes in (when the sound comes on); the poem performance starts at about 7.5 minutes and lasts only a couple of minutes. Just a sophomore, Mason received third place this year at the state competition, and second at state last year.
I have a fondness for POL, as it’s called by anyone involved, as here in Idaho it is sponsored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and POL began when I was serving on that board.
Congratulations also to Teton High teacher Diane Green, who was recently named “Idaho Poetry Teacher of the Year.” Diane has been organizing the local poetry competition at THS since the event started here. I was lucky enough to judge a couple of these sessions, and there’s something special about hearing each student pour their heart and soul into the delivery of one, two, or three poems. I’m sure you’ll hear it from nationals too.
So, if it’s been too long since you heard a poem, why not now? Or if you’d like to learn more about Poetry Out Loud, here’s access to the Poetry Foundation’s poems that are suggested to students to learn.