After another year of Poetry Out Loud at Malden High School, junior Heresa Guerrier recently moved on to the state finals. Although Guerrier is not moving on to the next round, MHS is still proud to be represented at the state finals by her stellar rendition of “Ecology” by Jack Collom.
Sean Walsh, head English teacher at MHS, explained that the performers at the semifinals were successful due to “their ability to embody the poem and clarify what the meaning is.”
Walsh also believes that “there were some great performances of poems that [he has] heard a hundred times.” This Poetry Out Loud season, as always, had a wide variety of types of poems, and every performer brought something unique to their poem when performing. Students were able to put their own individual spin to their poems, making each performance stand out.
Guerrier, who moved on to the semifinals at MHS last year, explained that “[she has] geared towards poems that have some kind of rhythm to it.” Guerrier feels that her poem choice this year really “matches her personality,” which may have been why she was able to illustrate the meaning of the poem for those in the audience through her performance. She believes that she picked the perfect poem for herself before, but she still had “to show everybody who [she] was, though [she did not] succeed” during her classroom performances in her freshman and sophomore year.
David Londino, Guerrier’s current English teacher, expressed that Guerrier “got off to a really good start,” and “very little had to be changed.” Like Guerrier, Londino believes that “her poem selection this year made a huge difference.”
Poem selection was also integral for the two teachers involved in the 2015 finals, David Holland and Evan Mauser. Each took a vastly different approach, with Holland choosing to memorize and present a “longer” poem complete with custom changes to better reach the audience “and humor in it.” Mauser presented his in a short but powerful 10 lines.
For each, the content of the poem was the primary motivation in their choice to perform it, and in putting their beliefs and personal connections above the competition, they embodied the model that they hoped students would incorporate in their own lives.
While most students would not care to compete at the schoolwide or statewide level, all those involved agreed that the most important part of Poetry Out Loud is to better understand oneself and to establish or improve ones public speaking skills, confidence, understanding of poetry and its context with respect to their own lives.