Poetry in Motion

Poetry in Motion

NVOT hosts 13th annual Poetry Out Loud competition

On Monday, December 18, NVOT held the 13th annual Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition in the auditorium. The competition featured poetry recitations from nine finalists who advanced from the semi finals held in November. Performers were judged in terms of accuracy, physical presence, and articulation of the poem. Students from all grade levels participated with hopes of moving on to regionals, which will be held February 9 at Passaic County Community College.

Senior Dhitri Somas’ recitations of “I Carry Your Heart ” by EE Cummings and “Mothers” by Nikki Giovanni earned her the first place win and spot at regionals. Freshman Ari Cruz took second, followed by sophomore Brooklyn Leagon in third.

For Somas, who has been competing in Poetry Out Loud since sophomore year, the competition gives her the chance to examine poetry at a deeper level: “Poetry Out Loud offers an opportunity to learn more about the poem, work one on one with Mr. Train, and think about the various interpretations in which the literary work can be perceived.”

Preparation for the competition started in October, when competitors picked a poem to recite for class level competitions ahead of the semifinals. For some competitors, the process sparked a new interest in poetry: “The thing I enjoy most is learning about poetry and analyzing poems because before I did this, I honestly was just not interested at all in poetry,” junior Violet McKinley said.

The nine finalists stand together at the end of the competition (Elaina Bob)


Jeffrey Train, the English teacher responsible for organizing POL, believes that poetry can be not only empowering, but restorative as well: “I love watching students overcome adversity and get to that moment on stage. It’s not easy to get up and, you know, be vulnerable.”

McKinley shared a similar sentiment about performing her poem: “I actually feel like I feel like the best when I’m on stage, surprisingly, because I have an audience that I feel motivated to put my all into it and put my feelings into it.”

For Somas, winning was rewarding, but her eyes are now on regionals. This will not be Somas’ first time representing NVOT at regionals, however. In her sophomore year, Somas won regionals and represented the region in the state competition. “I am very happy to have won, but now I have to focus on regionals and pick out one more poem to learn,” Somas said. “This is the last year I am eligible for participating, which makes it very exciting.”

Train is excited to continue the POL competition tradition next year, hoping to further share his love of poetry with the whole NVOT community. “Poetry doesn’t fix the problem, poetry doesn’t make all things better. But poetry gives you access to feelings, emotions, that are human that help you to feel better, so that you can get on with the business of making the world a better place” Train said. “And so I think if you memorize a poem, you’re gonna connect with it, you’re gonna carry it around for the rest of your life”

See the video below for Somas’ performance of “Mothers.”

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