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Poetry Out Loud

On February 23rd at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, I had the honor of acting as a judge for the Northwest Ohio regional Poetry Out Loud competition. Three incredible teens had memorized multiple poems, practiced their recitations, and performed them knowing they were being judged. And I don't care how successful you get, that is tough stuff! It's one thing to memorize your own words, already understanding their meaning. But someone else's writing, to remember and convey the subtleties, understand the nuances... that takes skill and hard work.

Not only did I get to hear the voices of outstanding local teens, but I helped represent Northwest Ohio at the State Competition on March 10th in Columbus. A room full of talented teens and their very dedicated teachers, families, and friends - so much love of poetry in that room!

There's something intimate about giving voice to words written on a page. For today's challenge, look over the poems offered here:

Find a couple that really connect with you. Read and re-read them. Read them out loud, as if you needed to recite them. How do the line breaks affect your inflections? How do they enhance meaning? When you read them out loud, do you find more layers of meaning or different ways to interpret?

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then show some love of your favorite poem by writing a poem inspired by it. Either in response, or in a similar style.

Pick a poem of your own that you are still working on. Read it aloud. Do you find yourself stumbling? Those might be the spots that need attention. Think about how someone else might read your poem aloud. How would they know which words to emphasize, what tone might they read it with?

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Chris Bodor
Chris Bodor
Apr 05, 2023

I am so happy to hear that you got a chance to be involved with Poetry Out Loud. I was asked to judge a few years ago at a St. Johns County high school and it was so hard. I was given like 30 seconds to score after hearing each student do their amazing presentations. It definitely kept me on my toes.

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