Poetry For The Win

Lauren Burkle

Freshman Natalie Spinsby after winning the school Poetry Out Loud competition.


Students from each English I class met together during second period on Tuesday for the Poetry Out Loud competition to select a representative for state competition. This event is a place where students can compete with their individual class, their grade, and other students from schools around the state. If their performance is good enough, they could be in the state or national finals, with money as the final prize.

Students went one by one, performing their memorized poem in front of the class. Before class started, freshman Jaden Houghtaling said, “I’m so nervous, I didn’t think there were gonna be so many people here.” She paced near the door, talking to her friend, Piper Price, another competitor.

Torres Roe volunteered to be the first reader since nobody else seems up to the job. He quickly introduced the title and author of the poem then jumped right in. He recited it without any troubles and next up was Houghtaling.

The poem she picked, “Barter” by Sara Teasdale was full of imagery and she read it sweetly, yet with power. As Houghtaling walked back to the door where she was standing, Price got up for her performance.

Price performed “In” by Andrew Hudgins with a sense of emotion many classmates haven’t seen in her before. As she heads back to the door, she is applauded and receives a high-five from Houghtaling.

Now up is Elizabeth Quam. As she waits for the class to settle down again, she is preparing in her mind. She takes her time and gives a great performance, getting a round of applause from her classmates in return.

As the last performer of the period, Ben Johnson recited his memorized poem. He was entrapped with his own performance and took the class with him. With Ben as the final poem, all students applaud each other and the teacher, Ms. Reeves announced that one student would like to compete but will not be at school until later, but the students will find out the winner soon enough.

Natalie Spinsby could not perform with the others in her grade due to having a doctors appointment to get a cast removed. When Spinsby arrived at school later that day, she competed in front of the judges without the classes present. Sprinsby recited the poem “Since There Is No Escape” by Sara Teasdale and the judges were very impressed. Near the end of the day, an announcement came over the intercom. It was announced that Natalie had won Poetry Out Loud and would be continuing to the statewide competition in Des Moines.

Spinsby has picked her three poems to recite in Des Moines, hoping she can move on with them. She will read the poem “Since There Is No Escape” again, but will also perform with “Truth” by Gwendolyn Brooks and “The Obligation To Be Happy” by Linda Pastan.

Poetry Out Loud finalists: Diego Torres-Roe, Ben Johnson, Jaden Houghtaling, Piper Price, and Elizabeth Quam.