On January 23rd, sixteen students participated in the Poetry Out Loud school competition, and one winner was selected. Sergio Diaz Fernandez, a junior, was chosen to advance to the county-wide competition. Rosalie Rauenzahn, also a junior, won second place. “I’m looking forward to the contest,” Sergio shared. “I am going to get more prepared because I want to win.” He will be reciting the poems: “Bent to the Earth” by Blas Manuel De Luna, and “Rondeau” by Leigh Hunt. “I chose Bent to the Earth because it was a very deep poem, and I feel that it had a realistic, but sad meaning that needed to be shared.”
Poetry Out Loud takes place in English classes of all grades each year at Morro Bay High School. The required assignment is to choose one poem off of the Poetry Outloud website and recite it from memory in front of the class. Students like Sergio who went further than their class competitions had to recite two poems from memory in front of teachers who judged based on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, and understanding of the poem.
Another contestant, Rhys Demarest, shares her experience competing in Poetry OutLoud as a Freshman. “I could have been more prepared. Next year, I will try to memorize the poems better and pick one that I can connect with more.” Rhys recited “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye and “Self-Portrait” by Chase Twichell.
Both Segio and Rhys were first time contestants in Poetry Out Loud. “I was nervous,” Sergio admitted. “Looking out at the crowd makes me fearful, but it helped to look at the spotlight, or look around, so my eyes weren’t focused on one paritcular person or place.” Rhys added, “I made sure to keep my breathing normal and try to keep my heart rate down.”
The SLO county-wide Poetry Out Loud competition is taking place on February seventh from seven to nine pm. The event will be held at the Marriott hotel in San Luis. Sergio Diaz Fernandez will be reciting in the contest, representing Morro Bay High School.