Example poetry

Logan High School vies for state title in poetry contest | News

LOGAN — A Hocking County teenager is one of six statewide to enter the 2022 Ohio Poetry Out Loud State Championship Contest.

Magdalene Arizona Hamma high school student from Logan, will compete for the Poetry Out Loud State Champion title on Friday, March 4 at WOSU Public Media’s Ross Community Studio in Columbus.

According to Justin Nigro, director of operations and public affairs for the Ohio Arts Council, Poetry Out Loud is a national competition similar to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“High schools register with the Ohio Arts Council each year and hold competitions within their schools, with winning students progressing regionally, nationally, and nationally,” Nigro said in an email. “Poetry Out Loud is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Ohio Arts Council.”

Hamm first became interested in poetry in fifth grade during a poetry unit in English class. She enjoyed learning poetry, she said, and found herself writing it as she got older.

“I’ve been writing it for a few years,” Hamm said. “Usually just…as a way to express how I feel.”

However, it wasn’t until 2021 that she considered presenting poetry in front of the public.

“Last year for our theater showcase, I performed a poem I had written and the high school drama teacher told me I should try Poetry Out Loud. She put me in touch with the people to start,” Hamm told the Logan Daily News. She later performed the same poem at the 2021 Lancaster Festival. “But when I got it (wrote) I never planned to read it.” , she recalls.

Hamm said it was exciting to perform his poem instead of just having someone read it.

“It’s very different and it has different emotions and feelings” when played, she said. She prepared to read the poem by deciding which parts and which words she wanted to emphasize and express.

Hamm found Poetry Out Loud to be a perfect fit for him. She successfully entered the local Poetry Out Loud competition and later its regional semi-final held at Stuart’s Opera House on February 12, which can be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/atch?v=YINLhfcuOTU/. Her English teacher was particularly encouraging throughout the competition, she said.

“Because I really love to play, (bring) poems to life with my own interpretation ⁠ – I really love (enjoy it),” Hamm said.

As part of the competition, participants select poems from the Poetry Out Loud Databasesometimes in some guidelines ⁠– for example, Hamm had to choose three poems for the state competition, one of which had to be pre-20th century, another 25 lines or less.

“At the local and regional level, you do two poems, and then you save those two poems for the state level, but then you have another poem that you already had (chosen) before,” Hamm said.

Hamm was to choose three poems to perform in Friday night’s contest: “Movement Song” by Audre Lorde, “Truth is I would like to escape me” by Nour Al Ghraowi and “The Coming Woman” by Mary Weston Fordham.

She chose the poems she most identified with, she said, “So that I could express them better than if I picked one I didn’t really have experience with.”

Hamm said she loves poetry because each person’s interpretation of a poem is different.

“I love how it can be changed and interpreted differently by different people, especially the free form where there’s no specific way and the way the words flow,” she said.

Poetry Out Loud benefits all students who participate, Nigro said.

“Students build their self-confidence by practicing public speaking, and they learn about our country’s literary heritage by deepening their knowledge of poetry,” he said in his email message.

Hamm is excited but nervous about performing Friday night.

“I make sure I have it memorized well and that even when I’m not paying attention to the words I’m saying, I can still say them. And then on top of that, with it, it’s more about being in the moment while I’m reciting instead of just trying to recite it from memory,’ Hamm said. “So once I feel comfortable with the poem, it’s a lot easier not to feel nervous, but I’ll be nervous right before I go on stage and I’m usually able to calm down after I say the first line.”

Friday’s national finals consist of three rounds; each student will recite one poem per turn. The winner will be determined by the cumulative scores of each round; the winner with the highest score will become the 2022 Poetry Out Loud Ohio State Champion. Judges include poets Steve Abbott, Nancy Kangas and Rose Smith

The winner of the Poetry Out Loud State Finals will receive the Ohio State Poetry Out Loud Champion, $200 and an original framed print by artist Wendy Partridge. The winner’s high school will also receive $500 to purchase books for their school library.

The winner of tonight’s final will go on to the national semi-finals, which will be held virtually on May 1; the winners of the semi-finals will advance to the national final, which will also be held virtually on June 5. The final winner will receive the title of National Poetry Aloud Champion, $20,000 and the winner’s high school will receive another $500 for library books.

As Friday’s in-person audience was limited, the event was streamed live on livestream.com/wosu/POL2022/ and will be available for viewing after the event ends.

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