This year at Pentucket High School, Poetry Out Loud was better than ever! I was personally taken back by the talent of the contestants and outcome of the event. Let’s look at the event piece by piece as we not only view the reciters, but the hosts and instrumental entries as well.
Taking part in the school finalist round at Pentucket were twenty two students, ranging from grades nine through 12. I was surprised by the large amount of students participating, knowing that prior years hasn’t had as large of an outcome.
I found a high level of professionalism carried out by the students performing. Many of which held immense passion and confidence while few came off nervous and/or unprepared.
Being in poetry recitations myself, what I looked for in each contestant was a short list of attributes. These are as followed:
Appropriate use of hand gestures and tone
Proper posture (no form of swaying or shaking)
Clarity within speech, strong pronunciation
This is similar to the criteria is used by professional judges and by the Poetry Out Loud organization itself.
Out of those who performed, two stood out to me. One of which was by Olivia Colby, a representative of the sophomore class. Not only did she have great emotion, but she also had proper tone. Colby’s voice matched perfectly to the mood of the poem. For someone with not much experience in recitation, her presentation was extremely impressive.
Likewise, Molly Forget wowed the crowd. Her performance got one of the largest applauses I heard throughout the whole program. Aware of her vast background in theater, it was not unseen that her performance was a jaw dropper. Similar to last year, I was taken back by her tonality and creative use of body language.
Looking beyond the constants, hosts Kevin Inger and Lindsey Fevry executed the flow of the event perfectly in addition to their sharing of jokes and tweets. They kept a light tone while still entertaining the audience during intermission. What I found most impressive about their presentation was not only how confident they seemed on stage, but their great interest in the program.
Similarly, Troy Bochman impressed the crowd with his outstanding piano renditions. Speaking to other students, many believe Bochman is one of the best pianists featured at events in Pentucket High School. Several students praised Bochman after his performances and he approached them welcomingly.
Going back to the contestants in Poetry Out Loud 2019, the winner, Audrey Thronson, will be representing Pentucket on the state level competition. Personally, I was not surprised at this outcome due to her amazing recitation.
I plan to follow up with Thronson after her final placing in Poetry Out Loud to learn her view on the competition. I am curious to hear how further levels of Poetry Out Loud are composed and if she engaged with other students throughout the program.
As a whole, I was greatly impressed with the finals of Poetry Out Loud. Not only were the contestants extremely skilled, but the hosts and instrumentalist were as well. I plan to continue to support the program and encourage others to do so as well.
A podcast of the event can be listened to here.