Poetry Out Loud advances to state competition

Nelson Gaillard, Staff Writer

Priyanka Voruganti (11) and Claire Yoo (12) competed in the regional competition of Poetry Out Loud (POL) on Monday and both advanced to the state competition in March.

“Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation competition where students perform the work of other published poets,” English teacher and POL faculty advisor Sarah McIntyre said.

Yoo founded the school’s POL club during her sophomore year to get other people who were interested in poetry to find an environment in which they feel comfortable to explore a new way to enjoy it, she said.

“Last year, Priyanka was a runner-up at regionals and went to states, but it’s the first year that both winners of the competition are from the same school in more than four years,” Yoo said.

Voruganti joined POL because of her love of acting and finds reciting poetry on stage familiar to acting, she said. She also wanted to find one club within the school that she was passionate about, she said.

“I’ve always considered myself an artistic person and poetry is one way that I choose to express myself artistically,” Voruganti said.

In the competition, participants are required to choose, memorize, and recite one poem written before the 19th century, one poem that is under 30 lines, and one in any category, Liliana Greyf (9) said.

“It’s such a joy as an English teacher to hear someone has committed a poem to memory and has delivered it with style and posh and understanding and commitment,” English teacher Rebecca Bahr, one of the judges for the school competition, said.

Similarly, McIntyre became a part of POL because students who demonstrates an independent love of poetry warms her heart, she said.

Bahr chose Voruganti and Yoo to move to the regional competition because they have so much sophistication in their reading and were really invested in their poems, she said.

“[Priyanka and Claire] were both really clearly able to communicate the ideas and the emotions of the poems in a way that I could actually feel,” English teacher Andrew Fippinger said.

“I think that [Priyanka] and Claire won deservedly those spots because both of them selected poems that they relate to personally,” McIntyre said.

This year, Voruganti chose poems based on the universe, compared to last year, when she chose poems on the subject of women, she said.

Yoo likes to recite poetry that tells a story and has specific imagery that makes it easier for the listeners to understand what is happening, she said.

Greyf and Mekhala Mantravad (9) participated in the school’s POL competition this year but neither was chosen to continue to the regional competition. However, this will not stop Greyf from pursuing her love of poetry, Greyf said. 

Outside of school, Greyf reads and writes poetry and applies to many different competitions, and plans to compete in POL again next year, she said. “I’m going to be looking forward to competing again because I think I’ll have a better shot at making it farther.”

Yoo is looking forward to the state competition and possibly the national competition in Washington DC and is excited to hear poems from passionate participants, she said.

Voruganti is eager to compete in March because of the tougher competition, she said. “I really want to win.”