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Reciters rejoice in annual poetry contest

Poetry Out Loud from The Brophy Roundup on Vimeo.

Students participate in judged poetry readings

By Josh Galvin ’13
THE ROUNDUP

The silence hung palpably in the Black Box Theatre; all eyes fell upon the seven finalists.

As the reciters strode up to the platform one by one, the words of Shakespeare and Hughes broke the deafening quiet.

The final round of this year’s Poetry Out Loud Feb. 9 showcased the best poetry performances Brophy had to offer.

However, the selection process that took place prior to the event proved difficult for the judges and student body alike.

Overall, 100 students memorized poems for the first stage of the contest, and classmates used the Poetry Out Loud rubric to pick a winner from each English classroom.

Students were evaluated in seven categories: physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, accuracy, and overall performance.

Out of these participants, 26 advanced to the semifinals hosted in the Black Box Jan. 26-28, where ultimately the seven finalists emerged based on the scores from six judges.

The panel included Ms. Elizabeth Clarke, Ms. Dorothy Dunnion, Ms. Susan Maynard, Mr. Ryan Hubbell, Ms. Kelly Guffey and Mr. Chad Unrein, who was the accuracy judge.

“I thought they were really good… last year (the contest) was more a learning experience; it was more voluntary and fewer kids—those who wanted to put in full effort—competed. However, there were more finalists this year, and they were better and well-prepared,” Ms. Dunnion said.

Mr. John Damaso ’97 emceed the contest, and Mr. Steve Smith ’96 served as the official scorekeeper.

In the end, Conner Wareing ’12 was declared the winner with his respective performances of “Equus Caballus” by Joel Nelson and “Miniver Cheevy” by Edwin Arlington Robinson.

His active enactment of the latter proved to be an effective method of emotional conveyance to net him first prize.

After placing second last year, Wareing said he was happy with the results of this year’s contest.

“This competition I had something to prove. We had quite a few more contestants this year, but it was a welcome difference, as I got to recite more poetry,” Wareing said.

He also offered advice to prospective reciters.

“Get as much constructive criticism as possible. I recited my poems several times to my parents, grandparents and Mr. Tom Danforth ’78… for three weeks,” he said.

The runner-up, Gary Williams ’11, recited “Booker T and W.E.B.” by Dudley Randall and “I, Too” by Langston Hughes in a calm and composed narration.

Even in the aftermath of the contest, some remain hopeful that poetry stays a larger part of campus life.

“I love the idea (of Poetry Out Loud). I think poetry is meant to be read aloud and listened to, and not just on a page. I love the idea that this contest gives it its place. Poetry, besides its images and rhythm, has a sound element that has to be considered,” Mrs. Dunnion said.

Both Wareing and Williams will advance to compete in the Arizona Central Regional Finals at ASU March 6.