In Poetry Out Loud elective students read, interpret poetry to prepare for national competition

Jacqueline Chao
Sophomore Brandy Riziki studies one of the poems she has chosen for the competition.

Poetry Out Loud is a new elective taught by drama teacher Brian Frishman, in which students work on techniques for reading poetry and also memorize their entries for the National Poetry Competition.

The elective has been taught before by Joel Rickert, and Frishman decided to bring it back. In the contest, the students recite three poems listed on the Poetry Out Loud website, with one being under 25 lines, and another having been written in the 20th century.

The regional competition will be at Rosemont High School on Thursday Feb. 9.

In class, students interpret and read poetry and receive help from Frishman in selecting a poem from the competition list to read.

Frishman said he started the elective because he wanted to  encourage students to appreciate poetry, find their voice reciting it and improve their presentation skills.

He said he has taught poetry before in his drama electives because it helps students use their voice to tell a story.

Sophomore Gabi Alvarado, one of the two students in the class, said that she joined because she writes poetry and knows that interpretation is key in writing. Alvarado has published poetry in SCDS’s literary magazine, the Glass Knife and wants to learn more techniques and review other poets’ work.

“I find poetry’s a good way to express oneself to others, especially when you can’t or don’t necessarily want to explicitly tell someone how you’re feeling,” Alvarado said.

“I think it’s very much up to the reader how they interpret the poem, and I like that reading a poem can affect you in a way the author hadn’t thought of. I think it’s a beautiful medium that can inspire people.”

Alvarado said she likes deep poems because they are expressive. Her favorite poets include Wilfred Owen, Robert Frost and Brian Turner.

In preparation for the competition, she is working on “Beginning” by James Wright, “A Locked House” by W. D. Snodgrass and “January 1795” by Mary Robinson.

The other student in the elective, sophomore Brandy Riziki, said that Frishman has opened another way for her to read and recite poetry.

“I also love the fact that we share what we understand and feel about the poems that we pick.” said Riziki.

Riziki said her favorite poem is “The African Child Will Dance” by Natash Muhoza, a famous Rwandan poet. It describes how Africa will rise from its toils, and how all its hard work will pay off. The poem says that, in the end, Africa will celebrate and dance.

A contest judged by the high-school faculty, excluding Frishman, will decide which student will read her poem at the regional stage of the National Poetry Competition.

By Larkin Barnard-Bahn

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