Poets With a Passion

“I feel like when people put their own voice into someone else’s words, it really brings it to life.”


Eve Foote

The final fifteen Poetry Out Loud contestants.

The Poetry Out Loud finals (POL), NVOT’s tenth annual poetry-reciting competition, took place on Tuesday, December 17. The Lance interviewed this year’s contestants backstage while the competition was taking place. 

Click on the gallery below to hear about each of the contestants’ thoughts on the event, and poetry as a whole:


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  • Senior Tori Iacobucci: “This is my second POL. My first poem is about the rain, and it is talking about the rain in a very amazed tone of voice, so it shows that the rain is a beautiful thing and not a terrible thing like everyone says it is. My second poem is about a relationship where the man isn’t as in as he should be, and he only wants the good parts and not the hard parts. It’s talking about how it’s not fair to the girl. I was nervous, but after the first performance I just have adrenaline. Poetry is very underrated. Everybody loves music but no one likes music without the music. I feel like POL is a great way to show people that poetry isn’t always depressing and sometimes it’s really entertaining. I feel like when people put their own voice into someone else’s words, it really brings it to life.”

  • Senior Rida Qureshi: “This is my fourth poetry out loud. Freshman year I competed, and I placed second. Sophomore year I won the school competition, I won regionals, and I made it to finals. My first poem is about the feeling that music gives the poet, so he’s talking about how overwhelmed he is by how good it is. The second poem is a metaphor about race relations in the United States and stereotypes and how dogs don’t have those stereotypes. The poet wishes for that simplicity. It’s all your jurisdiction, it’s how you run it. You dictate what the poem means, it’s not just someone else’s words in your mouth, it’s your words in your mouth.”

  • Senior Nia Watson: “This is not my first POL; it is actually my fourth year competing. Junior year I placed third. I love participating every year because I love the feeling of being on stage. I am not nervous to perform. I love poetry, I’ve always loved poetry. I get an excuse to wear a dress on stage with a microphone. I have no fears. My first poem is about domestic violence and the second is about a person who loses their loved one in a war. They both have really powerful messages.”

  • Junior Marie Yamamoto: “It’s not my first POL, I’ve been doing it since freshman year. One [poem] is about reflecting on change–expecting the worst and then overcoming it. The second is about love and the realization about what love is. I feel like I’m so stressed about it that I’m not nervous anymore. I’ve always liked poetry. I like using other people’s words to express my feelings better than I know how.”

  • Senior Kelly Unanue: “This is my first POL. My first poem is about feminism and comparing it to a female horse, and what it means to be a strong, powerful woman. My second poem is from the perspective of a golden retriever, and reflects what it means to be in the present — and, yes, I’m a little nervous. [Poetry] is to the point, has a deeper meaning, and I just want to communicate that.”

  • Freshman Katie Park: “This is my first POL. My first poem is about a breakup and a girl who is really sad about it. The second is about grief. I’m very nervous, my knees are shaking! I think [POL is] different because I feel like a lot of schools do not focus on poetry as much. It’s nice to have poetry that people can take seriously.”

  • Kathleen Bailey: “This is my third POL. “Caged bird”, my first poem, is a lot about like how ‘free birds’ with privilege have a lot and ignore the “caged birds” that sing if their troubles (people who are suffering in the world). “Make a Law”, my second, is about injustice in the criminal justice system. And yeah, I’m really nervous. But it’s really cool how you can take a poet’s words that are not necessarily your own at first, and dissect the meaning and then make it your own when presenting in front of everyone.”

  • Freshman Julia Langone: “This is my first POL. My poems are respectively about how the amount of work we do can oftentimes be seen as not being enough, and my other one is about water and its connection to life and death. And yes, I’m nervous. I think poetry is so focused on the appreciation of literature, and it’s very theatrical in a way.”

  • Junior Avery Linder: “This is my first POL. My first poem is about childhood, and that children should be able to explore and learn for themselves. It shouldn’t have all the burdens of adult knowledge, per se. My second poem is a humorous poem, as it sounds like it’s talking to a lover, but actually it’s talking about my bed. Also, yeah, I’m really nervous. Honestly, I think this is an opportunity, just you, the mic, and poetry. It’s just your expression, you don’t need to worry about what other people’s interpretation of the work is.”

  • Senior: Alex Bedoya: “This is my first POL — I made it to the semi-finals my freshman year, but I did not have the confidence to go through with it, so I didn’t show up. My first poem is about a widowed healer that lives in the desert, but a lot of the time people come to her seeking healing and treatments. My second poem is about the slang called spaninglish, a mix between spanish and english. Not going to lie, I have a little bit of nerves. POL stands out because everyone started on the same page, and for me I was able to take it to the next level. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.”

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