Burlington High School students gathered on Feb. 7 in the library for an evening of slam poetry and spoken word expression, as part of the annual Poetry Out Loud competition.
Poetry Out Loud is an annual national recitation competition, which has been held at BHS for the last eight years.
Poetry Out Loud teaches students about significant poetry through memorization and reciting poetry. This program is beneficial to students because students learn to master public speaking skills and build self confidence.
Students and parents packed the BHS library to support this year’s performers. Benjamin Roesch, an English teacher, introduced Poetry Out Loud to BHS because he wanted to open up what he sees as a great opportunity to all students.
“The program is straightforward – students select a poem from the database and memorize it. That’s what’s different about Poetry Out Loud than other experiences where students have to memorize.” Roesch said.
Roesch believes memorization is important for significant creativity. He talked about how working memory is beneficial for learning and that it keeps students focused.
Students who participate in the contest practice an essential life skill.
“Poetry Out Loud gives students the opportunity to bring a poem to life for an audience. We talk about things like physical presence, how to voice an articulation, and how to convey evidence and understanding,” Roesch said. “There’s a lot of good soft public speaking skills that come with it. At some point we all have to get up in front of an audience and it’s good practice to get better at public speaking skills.”
Aliyah Burr, a BHS sophomore, agrees. She is the BHS Poetry Out Loud champion for the second year running. Poetry Out Loud is unique because it gives students the opportunity to express themselves through poetry whether it is a feeling, a story, or standing up for something that the student believes is right.
“To me Poetry Out Loud means being able to express myself and convey feelings I have through poetry,“ Burr said. “Learning to speak in front of others is really beneficial and poetry itself is very therapeutic to me personally.”